Frightened parents deplore ‘savage’ cuts to Brothers of Charity services

“Savage” cuts planned for the Brothers of Charity’s budget for 2010 will devastate services and cause “untold grief” to service users and their families, a concerned parent warned this week.

Eamonn Walsh, the father of a child with an intellectual disability and a parent representative on the Brothers of Charity’s board of directors, says the organisation’s budget is being slashed by €2.5 million.

There are proposals to close two community homes in Galway and cut respite services by 45 per cent as part of the restructuring of services.

“These are the two most devastating effects of the planned cuts,” says Mr Walsh, who lives in Headford. “Another cut proposed is charging parents for the day service and the five day service maybe being reduced to four days.”

Some 600 adults and 500 children avail of the Brothers of Charity services in the city and county, he outlines.

“Parents are frightened by the planned cuts. My child, Peter, has significant needs, he has cerebral palsy, a severe learning disability and autism. We are all absolutely scared for the future. We are angry as well. The Brothers of Charity’s AGM was held last week where parents heard firsthand about the cuts. All the politicians were invited but none turned up.

“Our children have no voice. My little fella has no voice, no vote and no rights. At the end of the day we are looking after our children 24/7. All we need is a little help. Thirty children get one night or more maybe respite care a month. Three of those mothers have had psychiatric care in the last three months. Another parent is so desperate to get one night a month respite. Their 16-year-old child has challenging behaviour and is violently abusing them. She has broken two of her mother’s ribs. They had to take her by ambulance to A&E to beg them [the hospital] to do something.”

Galway will be worst hit by the proposed cuts, he says. “The level of cuts planned for Galway are not happening in other parts of the country. We are calling on the Government not to implement such severe cuts here. They will devastate services and cause untold grief. Dozens of parents are in dire need of extra respite not cuts.”

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames says cuts of this nature are “beyond callous”. “Those with disabilities, their parents and families are once again having to pay the price for the gross mismanagement of our public finances.

“This retrograde move will cause considerable anxiety and stress for the parents and families of those who avail of services as they simply cannot sustain this level of cuts. The impact on service users, however, will be even greater. Two community houses in Galway are being forced to close, which will consequently have the effect of pushing the numbers in other houses in the area up. This will put an even greater strain on the situation and will undo any work done so far in supporting those with disabilities and those living with autism to live in smaller groups.

“On top of the cuts outlined, others are also happening under the radar. Orthotic services have been fully withdrawn from the organisation putting people with mobility issues in an impossible situation. This cannot be allowed to continue. While bankers and developers who profited so handsomely in boom times suck the life blood from what’s left of our coffers, people with physical and mental disabilities, who already struggle to cope, are being stripped of services. It is a shameful and reprehensible situation.”


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