A MOTHER struggling to raise €20,000 for a life-changing operation for her seven-year-old daughter has hit out at former Justice Minister Alan Shatter’s €70,000 severance entitlement.
Antoinette McLoughlin, who is originally from Coolock, has been fundraising since April last year to try to secure an operation in the US for her daughter, Katie.
The brave youngster suffers from a rare condition called Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy, meaning she cannot walk unaided and needs a wheelchair to get around.
A potentially life-altering procure called selective dorsal rhizotomy could allow Katie to walk.
The problem for Ms McLoughlin is that she must raise €60,000 by August so that her daughter can make it to St Louis Children’s Hospital in the US for the procedure.
She has put in countless hours of work organising fundraising events, managing to collect €40,000 towards the operation, without any help from the State.
Ms McLoughlin was infuriated when she learned that Mr Shatter, who stepped down at Justice Minister after the scathing Guerin Report, was entitled to a €70,000 “golden parachute”.
The report was highly critical of Mr Shatter’s handling of complaints by garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.
“I know he’s entitled to it,” Ms McLoughlin said, “but when you’re told that there’s no funding even for a new wheelchair for Katie and then you read that there’s a pat on the back and €70,000 it’s frustrating.”
She told how she had set up events such as a sponsored head-shaving and family days to raise funds for her daughter while children living in Dublin’s East Wall came together to raise €500.
Ms McLoughlin also said that she has been unable to secure a new wheelchair for Katie, despite the fact that she has grown out of her current one.
Nevertheless, she said: “Katie is a great child and she doesn’t let any of this get her down.”
Ms McLoughlin said she appreciated that Health Minister James Reilly had fought her corner in the Dail when he was in opposition five years ago.
Mary Harney was the Health Minister at the time.
But she has now written an open letter to the Government over the treatment of disabled patients.
“It was your now Minister for Health who told Mary Harney that it was a disgrace that a child had to wait for essential equipment for her needs and demanded answers as to why she wasn’t getting a wheelchair,” she wrote.
“As a mother of a disabled child, I am sickened at the way not only my daughter is treated but the way all disabled people in this country are being treated by your government.”
Ms McLoughlin said Mr Shatter’s severance pay should be put into essential services for the people of Ireland.
“Mr Shatter, if you have a heart at all, do not accept this severance pay as you and I both know you don’t deserve it,” she added.
Mr Shatter will be the last former minister to be entitled to a substantial payoff after leaving office.
The Government abolished the golden parachute payments, signing the provision into law in the week after his resignation.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has written to the Fine Gael TD informing him of his entitlements following his resignation.
Previous ministers who quit the Government - Willie Penrose, Roisin Shortall and Lucinda Creighton - have not taken the payment.