'It's just horrendous, people are devastated'


OVER 100 parents and family members of adults with special needs under the care and supervision of the Kerry Parents' and Friends' Association are taking part in a massive protest against cuts to disability services in Dublin on Wednesday.

Members of the Kerry Parents and Friends' Association are to be hit hard by yet more cuts to its budget. The organisation is to be cutback by €400,000 this year alone and heads of the charity say its operations can take no more.

Scores of parents urged Kerry TDs to press on the Government the need to protect the service at a recent meeting in Tralee in often emotional testament to the great work of the service.

The bottom line is that the quality of life of the 200 plus adults with special needs who attend its services will deteriorate massively as a result of the cuts.

"It's just horrendous what they are doing," Ballybunion parent Anne Kelly told The Kerryman. "This is a very important protest to us this week as Kerry Parents' and Friends' Association provide 24 hour care in their centres and the meeting last week was very emotional. People are absolutely devastated," she said.

One of the worst effects of the cuts is likely to be a reduction in the KPFA opening hours. Adults currently attend their nearest centres five days a week but this might now be cut back to four or less.

Ms Kelly said her daughter Laura, who attends the Listowel centre, would be devastated by any reduction in the time she gets with the charity. Ms Kelly said her daughter's improvement, in the time she has been under the care of the KPFA, has been remarkable.

"We are requesting the Government and the Minister of Health to recognise that certain services for people with significant intellectual disabilities, provided by Voluntary Bodies and funded or part-funded through the HSE are essential social services and will not be reduced or withdrawn as a consequence of funding reductions by the state," Vice-chairman Jim Sheehy said.

He outlined the organisation's plans to protect its essential services at the Tralee meeting, where the TDs - including Government Minister Jimmy Deenihan - gave a committment to do all they can to lobby Health Minister James Reilly on the issue.

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