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CRUEL DEPRIVATION AND PAIN IN UNEQUAL RECOVERY

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Irish Times-Social Justice Ireland

Government lambasted for approach to big social problems

Brian Hutton Irish Times .  Monday, December 3, 2018

Despite the rising need for social housing for example, the number being built is “grossly inadequate” because government policy relies on private landlords to provide homes rather than the State. This prioritises “those with property portfolios over those without homes”, the report says.  https://wp.me/pKzXa-Oa

“Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, with one of the fastest-growing economies, Ireland today has 780,000 people living in poverty. A quarter of a million of these are children, and over 100,000 of them have a job,” said Dr Seán Healy, director of the organisation.

“There are over 700,000 people on waiting lists for healthcare; over 500,000 homes without broadband. Over 11,000 people are homeless, with close to 110,000 households in need of social housing.”

The report states that although the Government has increased spending on infrastructure and social services in recent years, it is reacting to the symptoms of critical problems such as health and housing but ignoring the causes.

Despite the rising need for social housing for example, the number being built is “grossly inadequate” because government policy relies on private landlords to provide homes rather than the State.

This prioritises “those with property portfolios over those without homes”, the report says.

The Government’s “mistaken belief” that economic growth will simply trickle down to everyone is to blame for the hundreds of thousands of people being left languishing on hospital and housing waiting lists, a think tank has said.

Social Justice Ireland says the crises facing countless families around the country at a time when there is enough money to tackle huge problems in society is both “unacceptable and unnecessary”.

“Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, with one of the fastest-growing economies, Ireland today has 780,000 people living in poverty. A quarter of a million of these are children, and over 100,000 of them have a job,” said Dr Seán Healy, director of the organisation.

“There are over 700,000 people on waiting lists for healthcare; over 500,000 homes without broadband. Over 11,000 people are homeless, with close to 110,000 households in need of social housing.”

“The mistaken belief that economic growth will trickle down to benefit everyone in a fair and just manner has led to successive governments implementing policies that give priority to economic growth over all other areas,” said Dr Healy.

He was speaking in advance of the launch of the think tank’s latest state-of-the-nation Social Monitor, which it publishes three times a year.

The report states that although the Government has increased spending on infrastructure and social services in recent years, it is reacting to the symptoms of critical problems such as health and housing but ignoring the causes.

Despite the rising need for social housing for example, the number being built is “grossly inadequate” because government policy relies on private landlords to provide homes rather than the State.

This prioritises “those with property portfolios over those without homes”, the report says.

Problems compounded

Shortcomings were compounded in the latest budget, with mortgage interest relief being awarded to “corporate landlords” while the Government fails to protect tenants from spiralling rents and cramped conditions, it adds.

While spending has increased on healthcare, the “two-tiered health system” remains “beset by challenges”, with almost half a million people on hospital waiting lists, the report points out.

Instead of building a health system prepared for the future, the Government has chosen to run it on “crisis mode, putting vulnerable lives at risk”, it says.

Social Justice Ireland also points to problems in education, with Ireland suffering some of the highest depression rates in Europe among the less well-educated, and a failure to connect more than half a million homes and businesses around the country to broadband, disadvantaging rural communities in a digital age.

Ireland’s “laggard” status in tackling climate change also needs to be addressed, it says.

“It is time to truly grasp the nettle of climate change before the country is financially and environmentally bankrupted by its owns inertia,” the report states.

“While many of those policies have been very successful at generating economic growth, they have not succeeded in having those resources transformed into the levels of service and infrastructure, of equality and inclusion, that most Irish people would support or desire.

“Economic growth alone is not enough. More is required if we are to have a society which addresses the basic needs and promotes the basic rights of its population.”

© 2018 irishtimes.com

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Irish Examiner–Social Justice Ireland

780,000 people living in poverty in Ireland, report finds-Social Justice Ireland

This figure includes 250,000 children as detailed in the think-tank’s NATIONAL SOCIAL MONITOR for Winter 2018  https://wp.me/pKzXa-Oa

“The mistaken belief that economic growth will trickle down to benefit everyone in a fair and just manner has led to successive Governments implementing policies that give priority to economic growth over all other areas,”-Fr Sean Healy

  By Marita Moloney , Irish Examiner, Monday, December 03, 2018

 780,000 people in Ireland are living in poverty, according to the latest report from Social Justice Ireland.

This figure includes 250,000 children as detailed in the think-tank’s National Social Monitorfor winter 2018.

https://www.socialjustice.ie/sites/default/files/attach/publication/5577/2018-11-28nationalsocialmonitorfinal.pdf?cs=true

The group recommends implementing a universal social welfare pension and says increases in expenditure in this area are “barely keeping pace” with demographic changes.

The National Social Monitor is published three times a year by the independent justice advocacy organisation.

It highlights the increasing waiting times for treatment in Ireland’s hospitals and care centres and says the number of people on lists now stands at more than 700,000.

“Ireland has a hospital bed occupancy rate of almost 95%, almost 20 percentage points above the OECD average,” said Michelle Murphy, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland.

“Such high occupancy rates are associated with an increased risk of healthcare-associated infections, increased mortality and no capacity within the hospital system to cope with unforeseen events.

“Government must roll out the 96 primary care networks as a matter of urgency and fully resource the implementation of the SláinteCare strategy,” she said.

The group also recommends establishing a scheme to provide homecare services for the elderly, people with disabilities and with mental health needs. It also says community nursing facilities should be established to provide additional capacity.

With regard to housing and homelessness, Social Justice Ireland says a focus on short-term housing solutions provided through the private rented sector, rather than the investment of capital spending in social housing, is having an adverse effect.

It reports that more than 11,000 people are homeless and that almost 110,000 households are in need of social housing.

“Government needs to dramatically increase the construction of social and low-cost homes,” said Colette Bennett, Research and Policy Analyst at Social Justice Ireland.

Family homelessness increased by over 350% between September 2014 and September 2018. There is a real risk that current Government policy of promoting Family Hubs will normalise family homelessness.

“Government policy should be directed at providing homes and not hubs. Government should immediately introduce legislation to limit the amount of time families and vulnerable adults spend in hubs,” she said.

The lack of progress with the National Broadband Plan is also of “particular concern” as 500,000 homes are still without the service.

“The lack of movement in respect of the National Broadband Plan is impacting on existing businesses, delaying rural development and putting rural communities at a disadvantage at a time of increased digitalisation of basic services,” Ms Murphy said.

Dr Seán Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland, said the numbers were “both unacceptable and unnecessary at a time when resources are available to make a real impact on addressing the causes of these problems”.

“The mistaken belief that economic growth will trickle down to benefit everyone in a fair and just manner has led to successive Governments implementing policies that give priority to economic growth over all other areas,” he said.

While many of those policies have been very successful at generating economic growth, they have not succeeded in having those resources transformed into the levels of service and infrastructure, of equality and inclusion, that most Irish people would support or desire.

“Economic growth alone is not enough. More is required if we are to have a society which addresses the basic needs and promotes the basic rights of its population,” he said.

 

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780,000 people living below poverty line, says Society of St Vincent de Paul

“Last year, our volunteers visited approximately 50,000 families over winter and we expect to visit at least the same number this year,” said SVP national president Kieran Stafford.

https://wp.me/pKzXa-Oa

Irish Examiner,Thursday, November 15, 2018

By Joe Leogue

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has revealed it is receiving 1,000 calls a day, with some 780,000 people still living below the poverty line.

The figures come to light as the charity launched its annual appeal which, this year, will emphasise the effect of poverty on children and their future.

“At the moment, we are receiving over 1,000 calls a day to our offices around the country.” said SVP national president Kieran

“Although we are now among the top five richest countries in the world, we still have over 16% of the population living below the poverty line.”

“Poverty in Ireland in 2018 takes many forms and is primarily driven by low income and lack of access to good-quality jobs and affordable housing, health, education, and childcare.

“In our engagement with families and individuals living in poverty, SVP volunteers encounter many complex situations that require a variety of responses.

“Many of the families we visit will struggle to make ends meet this Christmas and some will consider borrowing money to meet the extra expenses they face at this time of year.

“Being able to access affordable credit rather than loans with extremely high-interest rates is essential if families were to avoid becoming over-indebted.”

Mr Stafford urged anyone struggling, particularly with the cost of education, fuel, and food to go to SVP for help.

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Budget 2019: biggest losers were working families and children

Michelle Murphy is a research and policy analyst with Social Justice Ireland

Sunday Independent   October 14 2018 6:30 PM  https://wp.me/pKzXa-Oa

Budgets are about choices and priorities. In Budget 2019, the Government chose not to prioritise children and families.–

Income tax measures only favour high earners and will do nothing to ease the burden of childcare costs, writes Michelle Murphy

Caught in a trap: As a percentage of wages, net childcare costs in Ireland are the highest in the European Union

Michelle Murphy is a research and policy analyst with Social Justice Ireland

Sunday Independent   October 14 2018 6:30 PM

This year’s Budget has yet again failed to significantly alleviate the crippling pressure on young families. Access to quality and affordable childcare and after-school care is a significant challenge facing families with young children in Ireland.

As a percentage of wages, net childcare costs in Ireland are the highest in the European Union. Measures introduced in Budget 2019 will fall far short of easing the cost of childcare for working families.

Ireland has the highest proportion of young people aged 0-14 across the EU-28. The provision of quality, affordable, accessible childcare for parents is essential, particularly for families who have moved away from their home base (towns and counties), and familial support structures, to take up employment.

High childcare costs are a barrier to employment, particularly among young women with children.

Childcare is also essential for those who are furthest from the labour market to gain the skills and confidence necessary to participate fully in society and to take advantage of employment and training opportunities.Ce their say on Budget 2019

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Lack of community and affordable childcare presents a significant barrier to labour-market participation for low-income families – particularly women who wish to return to employment following the birth of their children.

A significant proportion of one- and two-parent families rely on childcare outside the home. Two-thirds of lone parents of pre-school aged children who work full-time rely on non-parental childcare, and 70pc of couples with children of pre-school age who work full-time rely on non-parental childcare.

As a proportion of average earnings, the cost of full-time care at a typical childcare centre accounts for almost 23pc of the full-time earnings of a couple.

The group established to advise the Government on early childcare presented their report in 2015 with a number of recommendations – including investment at all levels to ensure families can access universal, quality and accessible services.

Ireland has significant ground to make up compared with our OECD and EU counterparts, and government investment in budgets 2017, 2018 and 2019 has simply not been enough.

Yes, the introduction of the Single Affordable Childcare Scheme in Budget 2017 was very welcome – but in order to create a real impact, significant and sustained investment is required over successive Budgets. Measures introduced in Budget 2019 to increase the net income thresholds for the affordable scheme are welcome, meaning an additional 7,500 children in the scheme and providing improved subsidies for others.

However, in order to reduce the costs for working families, far more than subsidies are required. Reports since the introduction of the affordable childcare scheme noted that some childcare providers increased their fees in line with the amount of subsidy, making no net difference to parents.

The Government needs to review the application of the scheme across childcare providers to ensure that it is not being abused, to publish the findings of that report and to impose sanctions on those providers seen to be taking advantage of a policy intended to support working families, particularly those on low incomes.

Furthermore, there is geographical disparity across the country in terms of both the affordability of childcare, and also the type of childcare which families are using.

The latest Central Statistics Office survey on childcare shows that in the west and midlands, for example, of those families of pre-school children who are using non-parental care, childminders are the most common type of childcare used.

When designing measures to support families, it is important that we recognise the need to support childminders and other arrangements – and that, ultimately, investment in universal and quality services are best for everyone.

So what could have been done last Tuesday to ease the financial burden of childcare for families?

The Minister for Finance announced an income tax package at a cost of €356m. The changes made are skewed and provide the largest gains to those on highest incomes and will make little real difference to working families. A couple with two earners on a combined €50,000 per annum will be 87 cent a week better off as a result of these changes – a drop in the ocean in terms of easing the financial burden of childcare.

With the cost of childcare such a huge burden for families, could such a large amount of annual taxation revenue have been used in a better way? Think of the difference to families if the Government had invested that €356m into delivering a comprehensive childcare package.

Budgets are about choices and priorities. In Budget 2019, the Government chose not to prioritise children and families.

Michelle Murphy is a research and policy analyst with Social Justice Ireland

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Social Justice Ireland’s Sean Healy on Budget 2019-Irish Examiner

Budget 2019 does nothing to tackle entrenched inequality

Budget 2019 fails to make any notable impact on Ireland’s entrenched inequalities and fails to tackle any of the major challenges the country currently faces, according to Social Justice Ireland’s Sean Healy   https://wp.me/pKzXa-Oa

“However, the approach taken in Budget 2019, towards addressing the need for a substantial programme of building social housing, is totally inadequate.”

“Budget 2019 included a number of welcome initiatives such as increasing social welfare rates and the minimum wage. However, its failure to address some of the major challenges Irish people currently face, such as the housing crisis or climate change, on anything like the scale required, is very disappointing.”

Irish Examiner Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Budget 2019 fails to make any notable impact on Ireland’s entrenched inequalities and fails to tackle any of the major challenges the country currently faces, according to Social Justice Ireland’s Sean Healy.

 

THIS budget pays lip service to social investment and skewed priorities and a reluctance to support much needed tax increases to fund public spending will mean inequality will remain fundamentally unchanged in Irish society.

Currently Ireland has 780,000 people in poverty, a quarter of a million of whom are children and over 100,000 of whom have jobs. Ireland also has 700,000 people on healthcare waiting lists, 110,000 households waiting for social housing and hundreds of thousands of people without adequate broadband in rural Ireland.

Budget 2019 fails to provide resources on the scale required to address any of these challenges effectively.

Social Justice Ireland is glad that Ireland’s economy is growing, that unemployment is low and that emigrants are returning. But when most economic indicators are on a positive upward trend, Ireland should be looking at how it can relieve the burden on its most vulnerable and improve the quality of life for all.

Times of prosperity are the times to build a more equal, and therefore stronger, society. We need to extend our understanding of fiscal policy beyond economic growth alone and give equal weight to just taxation, decent services and infrastructure, good governance and sustainability. A buoyant economy alone will not deliver a more equal, fairer Ireland.

 

Investment and Taxation

We need to take heed of the shocking social exclusion being experienced by so many Irish people and invest in solutions. Investment requires funding and this will only be delivered by increasing our total tax take.

This additional revenue and increased investment can be delivered without risk to the economy, without adding to the national debt and without sacrificing the goal of a budgetary surplus. While politically unpopular, with real political leadership this can be achieved by progressive taxation: which has already been done in some of the most successful and stable economies in the world.

Inequality is a disease of society that has many distressing consequences. Treating it means taking a long term view of what is best for our society and economy.

Ireland’s Budgets need to start to move the needle on equality as a priority, not least because a rich country should not have 780,000 people living in poverty; but also because the data shows that, unless we do this, we will pay eventually in lower economic growth, poorer levels of education, reduced economic output, severe health issues, ongoing housing crises and reduced competitiveness on the international stage.

Paying for the level of social investment we need is the issue. We can only borrow so much and, as Minister Paschal Donohoe pointed out in his Budget speech, our national debt is already at a dizzying level.

While Ireland’s income tax system is progressive, further progressivity on the wider tax front is the route to a broader tax base and resulting funds for social investment. We need to find the courage to take that route for the long term health and sustainability of our society and economy.

 

Tax changes could be much fairer

Even if policymakers felt they had to make some tax cuts, the ones chosen are unfair. Low-paid workers gained €26.52 a year as a result of the tax changes while those with higher incomes gained up to ten times that amount.

For the same amount of resources Government allocated to income tax/USC changes all single workers and one-job couples could have gained €85 a year while all couples with 2 earners could have benefitted by €170. This would have been the outcome if Social Justice Ireland’s proposals to make tax credits refundable and to increase the personal tax credit for all earners were followed by Govt. It would have been a much fairer outcome.

Low total tax-take is not sustainable

An increase in Ireland’s overall level of taxation is unavoidable in the years to come; even to maintain current levels of public services and supports, more revenue will need to be collected. Consequently, an increase in the tax-take is a question of how, rather than if, and we believe it should be of a scale appropriate to maintain current public service provisions while providing the resources to build a better society.

The Budget has introduced changes in taxing the capital gain on assets which are transferred overseas which will now be taxed at a low rate of 12.5%. This rate is substantially lower than the regular capital gains tax rate of 33%.

Social Justice Ireland believes that the issue of corporate tax contributions is principally one of fairness. Profitable firms with substantial profits should make a contribution to society rather than pursue various schemes and methods to avoid these contributions.

We believe that Government should introduce a minimum effective rate of tax on corporate profits. We have proposed a rate of 6% and regret that Budget 2019 did not do this.

Greater public investment required

Budget 2019 provides a welcome increase in the levels of public investment. However, the approach taken in Budget 2019, towards addressing the need for a substantial programme of building social housing, is totally inadequate.

Transparency – Obscuring facts?

Social Justice Ireland’s analysis of the Budget documents supplied by Government raises some questions about transparency. For example, we do not believe that the information and back-up figures on the healthcare budget are really transparent. These numbers don’t appear to us to add up.

While welcome new initiatives and increased overall expenditure on health have been announced we do not believe it will be possible to maintain the existing level of service and implement the new initiatives with the budget provided.

Budget proofing

The response to the economic crisis has had a devastating impact on poor and vulnerable people. There is an urgent need to ensure that the annual Budget does not increase inequality, but rather reduces it – in particular that it reduces poverty among all groups and that it reduces socio-economic divisions and addresses issues such as disability.

There has been some small progress on gender proofing. However, Budget 2019 has not taken any significant initiative to measure whether or not poverty and inequality will fall or rise as a result of the overall impact of the decisions taken or whether any of the other areas listed above are impacted by budgetary decisions.

Budget proofing should be an integral part of all future Budgets in Ireland. While we welcome the allocation to study the impact of disability, far greater resources and commitment are required if this is to be part of the annual Budget process.

Conclusion

Drafting a Budget involves Government in major decision-making about the direction of society and of how the available resources can best be used to address the challenges currently being faced by society while moving towards a desirable and just future.

Budget 2019 included a number of welcome initiatives such as increasing social welfare rates and the minimum wage. However, its failure to address some of the major challenges Irish people currently face, such as the housing crisis or climate change, on anything like the scale required, is very disappointing.

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Saint Vincent dePaul Society predicts a rise in poverty levels in 2018-Irish Examiner

Kieran Stafford, National President of SVP says the situation is not improving for the least well-off in our society.

Irish Examiner Wednesday, January 03, 2018

A leading charity is predicting that poverty levels will get worse this year, despite the economic recovery.

The Society of St Vincent De Paul says crippling rents are a major factor in the level of disadvantage experienced by many families.

In its New Year Statement, the charity says it expects to field more calls for help in 2018 than it received last year.

Kieran Stafford of SVP says the situation is not improving for the least well-off in our society.

He said: “We’re seeing that the situation is getting worse for the people that we are helping.

“It was an extremely busy Christmas for our members and we’re finding the same problems that we’ve been finding two years, three years, four years, five years ago.”

Mr Stafford also said improving educational access is vital in tackling disadvantage.

He said: “We’ve been calling on Government to improve access to education for people who are coming from Social Welfare backgrounds.

“In particlular, lone parents who make up one quarter of the number of people who are living in consistent poverty.”

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‘Broken Promises Protest’ – Disabled people with their friends & supporters FIGHT BACK. Thursday,July 13th 12-4pm Leinster House – PROTEST.

We need to call on all our friends all over Ireland. Please come out to support our Protest ‘BROKEN PROMISES’ outside Leinster House 13th July 12-4pm. This coming Thursday. We need YOU there, many disabled people are unable to come out to protest. Will you come out FOR them? We want to send a message to this Government as they go off on holiday (many disabled people never get a holiday!) that we are not ‘useless’ citizens.

We have gifts, skills, and can offer Ireland a great deal. With the right supports we can fly.

We are disabled people of Ireland. From the cradle to the grave successive governments have treated us as if we were 2nd class citizens. They have made ‘Promise’ upon ‘promise’ all BROKEN. We deserve better than to be treated as if OUR lives do not count.

‘Broken Promises’ Protest outside Leinster House intends to be a huge ‘wake-up’ call to this Government – we’ve had ENOUGH of being hammered by the government as if we should, in fact, be dead. We have endured cuts after cuts that have made our lives a misery. We need everyone to be our voice. We cannot do this alone.

‘Broken Promises:

•Failure to ratify the UN Convention on rights for Disabled people (UNCRPD) waiting 10 years

•Failure to give us a new transport/mobility benefit when they cut the old ones – waiting 4 years

•Failure to give the ‘personalised budget‘, promised in the FG manifesto 2011 so we can live our lives Independently. – Waiting 6 years

•Failure to implement the full disability Act of 2005 – 12 years waiting

•Failure to implement in FULL the ‘Rare Disease Plan’ for those with Rare Diseases in Ireland launched 2014 – 3 years waiting

•And MANY more…

We need YOU. If you came out for WATER come out for US, if you came out for Gay marriage equality, come out for US, if you came out to repeal the 8th, come out for US, if you came out to keep the 8th, come out for US.

‘Broken Promises’ Thursday 13th July 12-4pm Leinster House. wear purple (colour of mourning,) wear a purple ribbon, carry a purple card (the size of A5)

Suggestions for banners ‘Broken Promises kills disabled people’s lives’, ‘Broken Promises’ means inequality’, ‘Broken Promises are degrading & humiliating’, ‘we are NOT 2nd class citizens’, ‘Disabled lives matter’, ‘Shame on this Government’, ‘Disability Rights are HUMAN rights – Ratify the UNCRPD – NOW’, ‘Independent living in our own homes is a HUMAN RIGHT – NOT a luxury’. ‘Enough is Enough’, ‘Rights NOT Charity’.

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 FROM ST VINCENT DE PAUL SUBMISSION FOR NEXT BUDGET(2018)

Policies of Recent Governments Have Led to an increase in the Proportion of National Income Going to the Very Rich and a Reduction in the proportion going to those on low and middle incomes

“In the year 2014-2015, (when Labour and FG were in power-PH), the share of total income going to the top 1% increased by 20%. The share of income going to the bottom 50% fell by 15%”-SVDeP Submission

  The pre-budget submission of the St Vincent De Paul Society was launche on June 14. SVDP had 130,000 requests for assistance in 2016 and provided 33 million Euroin direct assistance to individuals and families in 2015.

In the period 2008 to 2015 the proportion of people who cannot afford to adequately heat  their own home more than doubled-an increase of 145%. Today 1in 4 one parent families are living in consistent poverty.(the work of Burton and Veradkar and Zappone-PH.)

More than 91,000 households are in need of social housing and over 2,700 children are homeless-(the work of Alan Kelly and Simon Coveney and FiannaFail.-PH)

The number of families with a person at work qualifying for social housing has increased by 25% reflecting the growing incidence of low pay and exploitation.

In the year 2014-2015, (when Labour and FG were in power-PH), the share of total income going to the top 1% increased by 20%. The share of income going to the bottom 50% fell by 15%-SVDeP

In addition according to CSO, when all taxation including indirect taxation is included, the poorest 10% 0f the population pay the same or a slightly greater fraction of their own income in tax as the richest 10%!!

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‘Ireland’s social contract is broken’-Fr Sean Healy, Irish Examiner Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Claire O’Sullivan 

The country’s housing crisis, broadband problems and the growth of zero-hour employment are all part of the Government’s systemic failure to make basic citizens’ rights a priority, says Social Justice Ireland.

Democracies are founded on a social contract, the think tank is arguing, a contract which sets out an agreement between individuals, institutions and government and the expectations, rights and responsibilities that come with this.

However, director Sean Healy said: “Ireland’s social contract is broken” as government and institutions are not making a minimum standard of living, essential social services and infrastructure, and the protection of basic rights a priority.

“The legitimate expectations of citizens are not being met. This is most obvious in areas such as housing and homelessness, a two-tier healthcare system, an ongoing failure to provide rural broadband and high levels of poverty and social exclusion, especially among children.”

At the launch of its annual Socio-Economic Review, fr Healy said: “The growth in precarious employment and under-employment are further examples of trends that are undermining the social contract.

“There is widespread disillusionment and disappointment that institutions created for the betterment of ordinary people have failed to deliver and, in many cases, are now seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.”

If ordinary people’s basic needs are to be met however it will involve increased government spending and choices will have to be made, such as increasing corporation and general taxation to pay for benefits such as improved infrastructure and public services, Social Justice Ireland warned.

The organisation said that the Government is too dependant on “on the market to address [infrastructural] deficits” as its tax take is so low that it can not fund big projects.

It is calling for a new social contract to be developed where “technological development, economic growth, and societal advancement are shared” between the richest and poorest people in this country.

It wants a social agreement centred around a vibrant economy based on sustainable economic growth rather than short-term electoral gain and fair taxation.

“Fair taxation would require an increase in the overall tax-take of 3%of GDP which will move us closer to the European average,” said Dr Healy.

“Such an increase must be implemented equitably and in a way that reduces income inequality. It would also require that a fair share of corporate profits would be paid in tax.”

Full Publication of Social Justice Ireland :Socioeconomic Review  2017  https://www.socialjustice.ie/sites/default/files/attach/publication/4784/socioeconomicreview.pdf

 

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Home care in Ireland is being privatised without debate-Prof.Des O’Neill,Consultant, Tallaght Hospital in Irish Times

 

 

“We, the present, future and increasingly healthy older people of Ireland, need to recognise our own stake in this sinister development. Rather than settling for a Trumpian alternative truth, we must demand a system that provides community and institutional care for age-related disability and disease on the same basis as that for cancer and cardiac disease.”

www.tallaghthospital.ie/Consultants/ProfessorDesmondDesONeill-.html

Professor Desmond ONeill. Name, Professor Desmond (Des) ONeill. Specialty, Geriatric, General & Stroke Medicine. Contact Details, 01 414 3215 .

 Irish Times  Monday, January 30, 2017, 12:00

One of the most troubling advertisements on the radio recently was from a private home care agency. A woman actor speaks of how caring for her parents was relieved by carers from the agency, particularly after one of her parents had a stroke.

No mention was made of the public health nurse, of Home Care Packages, or of the discharge arrangements of the stroke team under whose care the parent had been discharged. Our practice in Tallaght Hospital, and I am sure in most other stroke services, will only discharge patients requiring Home Care Packages when they have been agreed by the HSE.

Nor was there any mention of the considerable costs and challenges of trying to manage a private care package without the public supports available.

Privatisation of community care

Allied to the unannounced obstruction to access to Home Care Packages other than from hospital discharge since March 2016, this disconnect from the public system amounts to an increasingly overt privatisation of community care. This is akin to the rapid privatisation, without debate, of the nursing home sector (where a healthy system mandates a mixture of public, voluntary and private nursing homes), or outsourcing of mental health care to private agencies.

As discussed in previous columns, the problem is not the private or public route per se but a failure to openly discuss the ethical, social and practical problems arising from working with both systems.

Privatisation of community care has been underway for some time with the contracting out of Home Care Packages to private agencies. It has been promoted by a trinity of politicians, elements of the HSE and private sector (which retains a large proportion of the €22 an hour for home care, further subsidised by tax breaks to these fees).

Healthcare should be a right

Unwitting support for taking even more money from disabled older people arises from advocacy and the public by those who perceive an injustice between the so-called Fair Deal – which itself removed eligibility to State-funded nursing home care – and current Home Care Package provision, which is not means-tested but maxes out at four calls a day for the most disabled people.

In fact, there are multiple layers of problems with this reasoning, which received fresh oxygen from a recent documentary on the effect on a family of discharge of a person after stroke.

Without in any way negating the important role of family in providing support to us all, community services are for the person rather than for the family, and such healthcare support should be seen as a right on the same basis as cancer or cardiac care. It also enables people to depend less on care from family and other informal supports

A second issue is that the gap between the payment for a maximum Home Care Package and the average for a so-called Fair Deal would still leave over 100 hours in a week uncovered, and in particular it would not cover nights which is very often a deal-breaker.

In addition, more intense rosters inevitably mean a wide variety of people with variable training and approaches coming into the home, which can be very stressful and destabilising for not only the older person but for those living with them, as eloquently described by Ruth Fitzmaurice in this newspaper on January 4th last year : “Our house is filled with nurses and carers and they are hurting me. It’s not their fault.”

Trumpian alternative truth

A third issue is that the so-called Fair Deal is based on the fact that you are paying for board and lodging in your nursing home (even if you don’t have residency rights!). With community care, not only do you need resources to live in your own home but the first Irish longitudinal study on ageing (Health and Social Services for Older People II ) showed that older people already pay for part of their care.

If we later need nursing home care (as can often happen), are we likely to be further double-charged on our homes, assets and income with this selective inheritance tax on dementia and stroke – something that would be inconceivable for cancer care?

We, the present, future and increasingly healthy older people of Ireland, need to recognise our own stake in this sinister development. Rather than settling for a Trumpian alternative truth, we must demand a system that provides community and institutional care for age-related disability and disease on the same basis as that for cancer and cardiac disease.

Deprivation In The Unequal Recovery

Dr. Rory Hearne Sociologist

Dr Rory Hearne tackles the statistics behind Ireland’s growing inequality and challenges the narrative that those on social welfare receive the majority of state benefits.

Dr Hearne writes:

In 2007, prior to the economic crash and austerity 11.8% of the Irish population (about 485,000 people) suffered from material deprivation. A decade later, and four years into a supposed economic ‘recovery’, 25.5%, over a quarter of our population (that is 1 million people) are suffering from material deprivation.

That is an additional half a million people affected by deprivation.

So how can any one seriously argue that austerity ‘worked’ in Ireland and that we are in a recovery?

In fact, for some of our most vulnerable and socially excluded groups things are even worse. Take lone parent families for example. In 2007, 35.6% of lone parent families suffered deprivation.

Today their deprivation rate is a shocking 57.9%. And while the general deprivation rate dropped from 29% in 2014 to 25.5%, the deprivation rate for lone parent families showed no significant change from 2014 (when it was 58.7%).

While our children – the future of our country – 31% of all children suffer deprivation, which is double the 2007 rate of 15.9%.

But what does suffering from material deprivation mean?

It means that an individual or household experiences two or more types of enforced deprivation from a list of eleven deprivation indicators such as being without heating at some stage in the last year, being unable to afford new (not second-hand) clothes, being unable to afford to keep the home adequately warm, being unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or meal once a month, being unable to afford to buy presents for family or friends at least once a year or being unable to afford to have family or friends for a drink or a meal once a month.

The CSO provides a further break down of what proportion of people are affected by each of the deprivation indicators.

These show that there was in fact an increase in the proportion of people who have been unable to keep their home adequately warm in the last year, rising from 8.8% in 2014 to 9% of the population in 2015.

While 13.6% (almost 650,000 people) went without heating at some point in the last year (this is over double the rate in 2007). The most common types of deprivation experienced were an inability to replace worn out furniture (24.4%), afford a morning/afternoon/evening out (18.6%) and have family/friends over for a meal/drink (16.8%).

There are 257,000 people in Ireland (5.4% of the population) who are unable to afford to buy presents for family or friends at least once a year.

The recent Generation F’D documentary on RTÉ2 showed a father suffering the pain of looking to Christmas and being unable to buy his children presents. But among those at risk of poverty (16.9% of the population – they have an annual income below €11, 863, or 60% of the national median income), 14% were unable to buy presents for friends or family.

The inequality at the heart of the recovery is also shown by the fact that for this section of the population (approximately 800,000 people) who are ‘at risk of poverty’, there was an increase in the last year in eight of the eleven types of deprivation. But for those not at risk of poverty, there was a decline in all eleven types of deprivation.

If we look at deprivation by income decile we can also see the same pattern of inequality. 42% of the bottom income decile (they have an income less than €195 per week) suffer three or more forms of deprivation.

This is almost 13 times the rate of the top income decile (where just 3.3% suffer three or more forms of deprivation). The weekly income of the top decile is greater than €764 per week.

The figures also show the deeply unequal nature of our society and economy. They show that the top 20% get 40% of net income while the bottom fifth of our population get just 8% of all income.

Of course this doesn’t include wealth which is even more unequal. The top 20% have 73% of all wealth in Ireland in contrast to the bottom half of the population with just 5% of all wealth.

But a very interesting table, Table A 2, shows the average weekly equivalised income by decile and the composition of that income.

From this we can see that the bottom decile has a net disposable income of just €146 per week while the top decile has a net disposable income of €1,066 or 7.3 times the bottom decile.

But what’s really fascinating is that the table shows ‘social transfers’ from the state (unemployment benefits, pension, housing allowances received) received per decile and the results of this are not what you would expect.

It shows that the top decile received, on average, €164 per week in social transfers from the state. That is more than the bottom decile which received €119.99 per week in social transfers. So it shows that the state gives more to the wealthiest and highest income households than the bottom!

This challenges the narrative that it is those on social welfare receive the majority of state benefits and highlights that there is a significant welfare going to the wealthiest households as well.

In fact, the top decile pays, on average, €408 per week in tax, yet receives in social transfers (this is excluding tax reliefs etc), almost 40% of this total tax back in social transfers. So 40% of the tax being paid by the top income earners is being returned to them through social transfers.

This is very significant and challenges the argument that the top are being over taxed.

Barnardos, the children’s charity were absolutely correct in their response to the recent CSO figures to state that the “Continued lack of improvement in child poverty rates is a national scandal that requires urgent intervention.”

As they explain:

“Childhood is short, yet the experiences we have shape the adults we become and the lives we lead. Children living in poverty live life on the margins, excluded from opportunities and often unable to break the cycle of poverty. Poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life and has short and long term consequences on their development, health, education outcomes and life chances. Worryingly, children in lone parent households continue to experience poverty and deprivation at a far greater rate than children in two parent households”.

While, SPARK, the lone parent campaign group, has called on the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone to establish an immediate task force to tackle poverty in lone parent families. They have set up a petition in response to the CSO data arguing:

“The recent CSO data shows consistent poverty in the state is 8.7%. For 2 parent families with 3 or less children this drops to 7.7% but for children in lone parent families it is 26.2%. It is fundamentally wrong that a child is almost 3 1/2 times more likely to live in poverty based purely on their family status. We know childhood poverty has long reaching effects and we owe it to all children to ensure they have a fair chance”.

Take a minute to sign their petition here

 

Home care in Ireland is being privatised without debate

Professor Desmond (Des) O’Neill – Tallaght Hospital

www.tallaghthospital.ie/Consultants/ProfessorDesmondDesONeill-.html

Professor Desmond ONeill. Name, Professor Desmond (Des) ONeill. Specialty, Geriatric, General & Stroke Medicine. Contact Details, 01 414 3215 .

 

Irish Times  Monday, January 30, 2017, 12:00

One of the most troubling advertisements on the radio recently was from a private home care agency. A woman actor speaks of how caring for her parents was relieved by carers from the agency, particularly after one of her parents had a stroke.

No mention was made of the public health nurse, of Home Care Packages, or of the discharge arrangements of the stroke team under whose care the parent had been discharged. Our practice in Tallaght Hospital, and I am sure in most other stroke services, will only discharge patients requiring Home Care Packages when they have been agreed by the HSE.

Nor was there any mention of the considerable costs and challenges of trying to manage a private care package without the public supports available.

Privatisation of community care

Allied to the unannounced obstruction to access to Home Care Packages other than from hospital discharge since March 2016, this disconnect from the public system amounts to an increasingly overt privatisation of community care. This is akin to the rapid privatisation, without debate, of the nursing home sector (where a healthy system mandates a mixture of public, voluntary and private nursing homes), or outsourcing of mental health care to private agencies.

As discussed in previous columns, the problem is not the private or public route per se but a failure to openly discuss the ethical, social and practical problems arising from working with both systems.

Privatisation of community care has been underway for some time with the contracting out of Home Care Packages to private agencies. It has been promoted by a trinity of politicians, elements of the HSE and private sector (which retains a large proportion of the €22 an hour for home care, further subsidised by tax breaks to these fees).

Healthcare should be a right

Unwitting support for taking even more money from disabled older people arises from advocacy and the public by those who perceive an injustice between the so-called Fair Deal – which itself removed eligibility to State-funded nursing home care – and current Home Care Package provision, which is not means-tested but maxes out at four calls a day for the most disabled people.

In fact, there are multiple layers of problems with this reasoning, which received fresh oxygen from a recent documentary on the effect on a family of discharge of a person after stroke.

Without in any way negating the important role of family in providing support to us all, community services are for the person rather than for the family, and such healthcare support should be seen as a right on the same basis as cancer or cardiac care. It also enables people to depend less on care from family and other informal supports

A second issue is that the gap between the payment for a maximum Home Care Package and the average for a so-called Fair Deal would still leave over 100 hours in a week uncovered, and in particular it would not cover nights which is very often a deal-breaker.

In addition, more intense rosters inevitably mean a wide variety of people with variable training and approaches coming into the home, which can be very stressful and destabilising for not only the older person but for those living with them, as eloquently described by Ruth Fitzmaurice in this newspaper on January 4th last year : “Our house is filled with nurses and carers and they are hurting me. It’s not their fault.”

Trumpian alternative truth

A third issue is that the so-called Fair Deal is based on the fact that you are paying for board and lodging in your nursing home (even if you don’t have residency rights!). With community care, not only do you need resources to live in your own home but the first Irish longitudinal study on ageing (Health and Social Services for Older People II ) showed that older people already pay for part of their care.

If we later need nursing home care (as can often happen), are we likely to be further double-charged on our homes, assets and income with this selective inheritance tax on dementia and stroke – something that would be inconceivable for cancer care?

We, the present, future and increasingly healthy older people of Ireland, need to recognise our own stake in this sinister development. Rather than settling for a Trumpian alternative truth, we must demand a system that provides community and institutional care for age-related disability and disease on the same basis as that for cancer and cardiac disease.

Categories: Uncategorized

Seán Bresnahan-National Pro-1916 Societies

February 5, 2017 Leave a comment

‘THE TIME IS NOW RIGHT TO RESTORE THE REPUBLIC’ – SEAN BRESNAHAN

On Saturday 7th January, the Matt Fitzpatrick Society Newtownbutler marked the 60th anniversary of esteemed Republican Martyrs Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon. National PRO of the 1916 Societies, Sean Bresnahan, gave the main oration, published below.

A chairde. First-off I’d like to thank the Matt Fitzpatrick Society for the opportunity to speak here this evening, at this fine monument to famed Irish Patriots Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon, soldiers both of the Irish Republic whose lives they gave in defence of the people – that Ireland might one day be free. It truly is an honour.

As we gather together we do so to reflect on their tremendous sacrifice, and on that of all who fought and died for the Republic over the course of the century past, mindful also of those imprisoned ongoing due to continuing opposition to British rule in Ireland – that very thing which South and O’Hanlon determined upon ending when joining the Republican Movement. We extend them our solidarity and to recently released POWs here today we offer the warmest of welcomes.

We are mindful also of the McKearney family, who not far from here are waking their mother Maura. A family steeped in the tradition that bore Sean South and O’Hanlon, knowing much by the way of suffering and Martyrdom themselves, we offer our sympathies to them at this sad time.

In the twilight hours of a New Year’s Eve sixty years ago, as a 14-man unit of the Irish Republican Army set compass for Brookeborough RUC Barracks, determined to strike a blow for Irish Freedom, Sean South remarked to his comrades, ‘is this the moment we long have waited for?’

60 years on from that tragic night, an enduring inspiration to those still determined on completing the struggle for a free Ireland, our people await in hope that same moment so fondly imagined by South and O’Hanlon – the glint of freedom lighting their souls as they marched towards destiny unknown – where freedom will at last be upon us.

‘Out of this national liberation struggle a new Ireland will emerge, upright and free. In that new Ireland, we shall build a country fit for all our people to live in. That then is our aim: an independent, united, democratic Irish Republic. For this we shall fight until the invader is driven from our soil and victory is ours.’

Those words, issued by the republican leadership at the outset of ‘Operation Harvest’, are a reminder of the Ireland that South and O’Hanlon carried in their hearts as they entered the village of Brookeborough all those years ago.

It is that same Ireland that we, in the broad republican family, aspire to now today: a united and independent all-Ireland democracy as foresaw by the men of 1916, supported in turn by those who trod in their footprint down through the long years since – among them Sean South and Fergal O’Hanlon. Such an Ireland is far from the reality of our country in 2017.

The current situation in Ireland is a bleak one. Despite misleading figures that point to economic growth, a ‘two-tiered recovery’ is not only underway but at an advanced stage. A rapacious transfer of the nation’s wealth to corporate interests straddling the economy is in full flow, backed by the might of the Troika. Society struggles to pick up the slack – homelessness, indebtedness and a widening gap between rich and poor the inevitable consequence.

The so-called republic to the south is in crisis, with economic indices like house prices and GDP manipulated to disguise a social catastrophe where people queue at food bank for their Christmas dinner, where families have only a Bed and Breakfast to call home, where others freeze in doorways overnight and where others again struggle to hold onto their homes. Suicide is the answer for too many. Ireland is facing the abyss.

But we cannot understand this nightmare – and in turn confront it as we must – without understanding the role of the Troika and its control over successive Dublin Governments, which is the number one causal factor behind the crisis in Ireland today.

EU finance capitalism, driven by the needs of the Bundesbank and a slavish technocratic elite in Brussels, thinks it can save itself while the ordinary man and woman pays the price for its doing so. But it can’t. Because, despite the imposition of austerity in an effort to restructure perceived economic misadventures within the Eurozone, it is not the member states or their deficits that are to blame – even where they have contributed to the crisis with their own incompetent profligacy.

What is wrong in the Eurozone is as simple as it is complex, stemming from the faulty architecture of a monetary union devoid of the means to transfer economic surplus from its centre to the periphery. Absent such a mechanism, we are left with an austerity-driven low-inflation high-unemployment ‘doom loop’, which fuels itself in perpetuity by virtue of this essential contradiction.

Ongoing difficulties in Ireland are directly connected to the workings of the Eurozone and cannot be understood in any other context. That’s not to excuse the attitude of the political machine in Dublin but to say that without an analysis of the European debt crisis and the mechanics of monetary union – in terms of how that union structurally impacts peripheral member-states – we’re only scratching the surface.

It is no longer then a case of simply changing the government – indeed were it ever. The required solution will likely be wider than anything achievable at the level of the nation-state, should it seriously hope to succeed. It more probably requires a pan-European approach to debt and liquidity and ultimately to monetary union itself. That’s where we are at and we need to be conscious of where we’re at.

Liam Mellows once described it ‘a fallacy to believe that a Republic of any kind can be won through the shackled Free State’, holding it ‘the buffer between British Capitalism and the Irish Republic’. While the nature of capitalism and its relationship to Ireland is today more complex and extends beyond British influence over the economy, the words of Mellows have never been more apt.

The existing establishment is rotten at core and must give way for the democratic republic. But the republic can only be part of a wider solution where the failed, self-destructive Euro experiment is dismantled in full, the fraternal association of free peoples championed by Connolly going forward in its stead, ending the reign of finance imperialism, ending the debt crisis born thereof, ending the violations of our economic sovereignty by the terrorists in suits known today as the Troika.

And what of the Six Counties and its continuing occupation, its end still nowhere in sight? The internal arrangement set up under Good Friday has been exposed as a total facade, with little to no accountability or check on a permanent administration, sustained by sectarianism, that exists only as a bridgehead between British policy and Irish acquiescence to its terms.

Such policy still notably includes Internment, Diplock Courts, ‘special powers’ and the degrading of political prisoners in the gaols – all of it on the watch of supposed republicans who now administer that same occupation with no real objection to the above.

The northern regime, stumbling from scandal to scandal, is failing its people while fulfilling, as ever, its traditional purpose, which is to stunt the emergence of a progressive alternative at a national level at behest of its British paymaster. The hard reality is that the northern entity, despite outward appearances, is no more than a ward of Britain, with a revised Stormont at the lynchpin of the distraction. That there are yet some who think republican objectives can be achieved there reveals that we still have much to learn.

A century on from 1916, Ireland is in a truly sorry state. So severe are the problems impacting society that a new beginning, in the form of a democratic republic where power and finance are accountable to the people, offers the only route out of the morass. Towards that end, creating a new dynamic in Irish politics through the building of an alternative from below – where the people fight as one for the future – should be the immediate priority in these difficult and testing times.

In that context, republicans must work harder and closer than ever before to advance radical political change. The Ireland we are intent on cannot then be a mere extension of the artificial Free State on a 32-county basis. Our vision is of a new Ireland where issues as homelessness, sectarianism, poverty and emigration – which deface our society and trample its dignity – are no longer the lot of our people.

What is required is a direct all-Ireland response, a national campaign that takes no heed of partition, confronting thus the rotten political system – in its entirety – and demanding its obliteration – in its entirety – making headway for the All-Ireland Republic. Ultimately, then, our aim is towards the full restoration of Irish sovereignty, which must remain the focal point.

In that effort, we can only depend on ourselves, the broad mass of the people, and that is the lesson of history. The behaviour of the ruling establishment – north and south – proves as much conclusively, to say nothing of republican leaderships who, one after the other, have abandoned the Republic, over and over and over. We need to organise and put faith in our own, empowering working people while connecting their struggles each to the other – and in turn to the Republic.

Emerging realities, be they the continuing outworking of the Eurozone’s debt crisis, the impending exit of Britain from the EU or the escalating threat of military confrontation on the global stage, mean we need to prepare for change – for make no mistake it is coming. Progressive sections of society, ourselves included, must exert pressure on the established order and push our ideas to the forefront.

Ultimately, we can only truly rid ourselves of austerity by restoring sovereignty and rebuilding the Republic – forging a republic of the people and not the banks, in the lofty tradition of Tone and Lalor, of Pearse and Connolly, Sean South and O’Hanlon – all who have shown us the way forward; all an example for the road ahead. The time is now right to restore the Republic. Working together we can make it happen.

The stone walls that once were the barn in which these fine men breathed their last, here at Moane’s Cross in Altawalk, though smashed in spite and razed to the ground by the British Army, have since been rebuilt in the form of this monument before us. This beautiful memorial stone is a symbol of the unconquerable spirit that lies in the hearts of our people, that boldly and in defiance asserts to the enemy that, though they may strike us down, we will rise again.

We must go from here and loose that ancient spirit, determined that, like the walls of that barn where South and O’Hanlon passed from this life, the Republic for which they died – the Republic of 1916 – will be rebuilt, stone by stone, until Irish Freedom has been secured, until that moment long-sought by generations of our people has finally been realised; when Ireland, at last, takes her place among the nations.

By 1916 Societies|2017-01-10T12:34:46+00:00January 12th, 2017|Opinion|Comments Off on ‘THE TIME IS NOW RIGHT TO RESTORE THE REPUBLIC’ – SEAN BRESNAHAN

 

 

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Disability Services

February 4, 2017 Leave a comment

MEDICAL CARDS  FOR CHILDREN WITH DOMICILIARY CARE ALLOWANCE

SEAMUS HEALY TD Jan 2017:I asked for an update from Minister Frances Fitzgerald regarding the granting of medical cards to children in receipt of domiciliary care allowance as per the budget commitment. The Minister assured me that she expected the relevant legislation, which she acknowledged is a priority to be in the Dáil shortly. I will continue to follow up and keep you updated.


 

Assessment of Needs for Children

Seamus Healy TD Feb 2017: As promised I continue to follow up regarding Assessment of Needs for Children. I put the following question to the Minster: “To ask the Minister for Health the steps he will take to remedy the fact that south Tipperary is in breach of the statutory entitlement regarding assessment of needs for children under the Disability Act 2005 and to ensure that the matter is resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”

I received the following reply from Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath: “The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.
The particular issue raised by the Deputy is a service matter for the HSE. Accordingly I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.”

I will as promised continue to follow up and keep you informed.

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