Fears are growing that the Personal Assistance service for people with disabilities will see a reduction of 100,000 hours throughout 2016, with a County Galway TD calling the possibility "truly shocking".
Galway East TD and Fianna Fáil spokesperson on disability Colm Keaveney TD has criticised the 2016 HSE Service Plan, which has a target of 1.3 million Personal Assistance Hours for 2106, compared to the projected outturn of 1.4 million in 2015. The Tuam based TD argues this indicates a reduction of 100,000 hours is "clearly on the cards" for 2016.
He said it is "deeply disappointing" no additional service will be provided in 2016, given that "many of those who need the service only get four hours of assistance a week" and have to "squeeze any activity outside the home", such as shopping, medical appointments, and socialising, into those four hours. He added that increasing the hours is a "number one priority" of groups campaigning for people with disabilities.
"This is truly shocking and goes against a claim that Enda Kenny made in 2011 that disability was a social justice priority for him," said Dep Keaveney, who is calling for the Service Plan to seek an increase of 150,000 hours of service. “This country has a duty to support people with disabilities so they can enjoy equal and independent lives as other citizens do. They must be a priority over the next five years."