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Disability Report by lPp9L2


									Disability Report


Early Intervention for Babies Workshop

The next Early Intervention for Babies Workshop, will take place on Saturday, Feb 12th 2011.
This workshop is hosted by our website advisor, Speech and Language Therapist, Marinet
Van Vuren, together with Chartered Paediatric Physiotherapist, Gloria Vaughan.

The workshop is limited to 10 sets of parents and the therapists will divide the three hour
Saturday morning session between them to deliver practical hands-on tips as to how parents
can work with their child to further early development. The workshops will take place from
Marinet's Bright Stars practice premises in Rathfarnham.

Gloria Vaughan, BSc Physiotherapy is a Chartered Paediatric Physiotherapist who has
worked for many years in Enable Ireland before working in the community and private
practice. During all this time, Gloria has worked with many children with Down syndrome as
part of a multi-disciplinary team. Her private practice is based in Swords, Co. Dublin.

Marinet vanVuren is a South African born Speech and Language Therapist. For the past
seven years she has worked with a range of Irish disability organisations including Enable
Ireland, St Michael’s House and the Children's Sunshine Home. She recently set up her own
private speech and language therapy practice where she sees children of all disabilities with
various speech, language and feeding difficulties. She is an advisor to the Down Syndrome
Centre website.

The cost of attending this highly practical and hands-on morning is €100 per family and both
partners are encouraged to attend, where possible, to maximise the learning opportunity.

Interested in attending? Email us at or book your place online
through the shop at

Launch Of ‘Shift In Perspective’ - An Arts And Disability Resource Pack

An arts and disability resource pack entitled Shift in Perspective will be launched on 13th
December 2010 at Arts and Disability Ireland, the Sean O’Casey Centre.

 The resource pack is designed to assist arts organisations to develop innovative approaches
in high-quality contemporary arts and disability practice and to make their events more
accessible to artists and audiences with disabilities. The pack has been put together by a
partnership group, which includes the Arts Council, Arts and Disability Ireland, the Irish
Museum of Modern Art, Mayo County Council and South Tipperary County Council. Please
see www.adiarts.iefor more information
Genio DVD clips available online

Genio now have a selection of new DVD clips of individuals' profiles available online. These
offer an insight into the lives of six people with disabilities and mental health difficulties, their
families, friends and supporters.

       Aoibheann Foley
       Don Bailey
       Kevin Kennedy
       Diarmaid Ring
       John Murtagh
       Ann Dillon

Genio thanks to the six individuals featured, for sharing so openly with us their personal
spaces, homes and lives. Thanks to all their families, friends and supporters for their
invaluable contributions.
The interviews for these profiles were conducted by David Egan, Disability Consultant and
member of Genio.

Click here to view the clips.

You can also check out the booklet which features their stories here.

The views expressed in these interviews represent the views and opinions of the individual
people who participated in the project

Community/Local Update

Irish budget cuts could result in special needs teachers axe next school year
There could be a number of special needs assistants (SNAs) who lose their job helping pupils
in primary and secondary schools as a result of budget cuts in Ireland. Up to five per cent of
the 10,000 SNAs in the Irish education system could be lost in an attempt to reduce the
budget by 230 million euros, the Irish Independent reports.

Trade unions and disability groups have voiced their concerns that this move will affect the
country's "most vulnerable" kids. Chief executive of Barnados Fergus Finlay told the
newspaper: "It's getting to the point where it's almost an interference with the constitutional
rights of children because you can't provide a proper education without them."

Earlier this month, Ireland's cabinet ministers met to discuss proposals over cutting the
education budget as part of December 2010's financial plan. Sources revealed that in order to
save money, registration fees for third-level students could double from 1,500 euros to 3,000.

Cross border programme to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities

People with a disability are entitled to the same opportunities to be included in society, to
have equal access, to make choices and to lead a fulfilled life as any other person in society.
The initiative aspires to ensure that people with a disability can maximise their independence,
lead fulfilled lives and have genuine opportunities for participation in society. Funding from
the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme, secured by Co-operation and Working
Together (CAWT), the cross border health partnership, has enabled the Western Health &
Social Care Trust, HSE West, Donegal County Council and Strabane District Council to come
together to develop and deliver a Community Awareness Programme. This cross border
programme, aims to change attitudes towards people with disabilities and to make sure they
have proper access to buildings, goods, services and information in their localities.

The first stage in the delivery of the Community Awareness Programme is the establishment
of a Cross Border Stakeholder Group in the Strabane District Council and Donegal County
Council areas to provide feedback on the problems and barriers faced by people with
disabilities in this catchment area and to make recommendations on how these can be
addressed. The group have had one meeting so far and membership includes representation
from people with disabilities, Donegal County Council’s Disability Strategy Group, Strabane
District Council’s Disability Advisory Group, disability organisations, health, local government,
elected representatives, employment, housing and education. This broad representation will
ensure that issues pertinent to people with disabilities are raised and addressed.

Speaking today at the launch of the Community Awareness Programme, HSE West Regional
Development Manager for Training & Occupational Support Services, Annemarie Ward said:
“HSE West is delighted to be involved in this unique programme working in partnership with a
range of agencies, on both sides of the border. The programme has been made possible
through funding from the EU INTERREG IVA programme and will be focusing on working with
organisations and individuals to address the common issues faced by people with disabilities.
It is fitting that the Community Awareness Programme is being launched on the International
Day for People with Disabilities as the programme supports the main themes of the day which
are to promote a better understanding of disability issues and to increase awareness of the
value of including people with a disability in every aspect of the political, social, economic and
cultural life of their communities.”

Mr Johnny MacGettigan, Access Officer for Donegal County Council said: “Donegal County
Council are pleased to be involved in this cross border partnership to improve awareness of
the difficulties people with disabilities have in accessing services in their community. The
launch not only coincides with the International Day for People with Disabilities but also takes
place at the end of the Local Authority National Accessibility Week 2010, taking place from
29th November to 3rd December 2010. The Local Authority is striving to improve access to
mainstream services and to remove barriers to full social inclusion.”

People with disabilities, their families and support networks will be central to the development
and delivery of this programme. The programme will consult as widely as possible with
people with disabilities and their families living in the Donegal County Council and Strabane
District Council areas to identify the issues that prevent them from being as active in their
communities as they would like to be. All of the programme partners will work together to find
practical ways to resolve these issues and make this community a more disability-friendly
place to live. When the programme concludes the learning will be shared across the entire
border area in the expectation that it will lead to greater opportunities for people with
disabilities to be active citizens in their community.

Further information on the Community Awareness Programme can be provided by contacting
Teresa McMonagle, CAWT EU INTERREG IVA Citizenship Project, Project Office, HSE
West, Finn Valley A.C.,         Stranorlar, Co    Donegal. Tel:    074    91    89083

Specsavers Raise Funds For Guide Dogs

Specsavers have once again signed up to support Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind through a
fundraising campaign to be held during the festive season. Centred around a competition to
"Name a Puppy", the campaign aims to raise €40,000 for IGDB. Specsavers have once again
signed up to support Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind through a fundraising campaign to be held
during the festive season. Centred around a competition to "Name a Puppy", the campaign
aims to raise €40,000 for IGDB.

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind (IGDB) teams up with Ireland’s most trusted opticians to find
the country’s most popular names beginning with the letter ‘S’, to name a six-week-old guide
dog litter. The ‘Name a Pup’ competition is part of Specsavers’ pledge to raise €40,000 to
breed, train and support a single Irish Guide Dog partnership throughout the dog’s working
life. Ireland’s 36 Specsavers stores aim to raise the amount by the 31st December 2010,
through a variety of fundraising activities. This latest campaign will bring the grand total of
funds raised for IGDB by Specsavers stores in Ireland to almost €400,000.

Padraig Mallon, Chief Executive for IGDB says: ‘Year on year we have been building an
excellent partnership with Specsavers and are delighted to confirm that the company is, once
again, undertaking to support IGDB financially in the last quarter of 2010. It could not have
come at a better time as our fundraising income has fallen by almost 40% in the last two
years and we are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain our levels of service. We appeal to
the public to please support this exciting campaign as it will help us greatly in continuing our
work in supporting people who are blind or vision impaired, as well as families of children with
autism.’ Specsavers chairperson in Ireland, Sean McCauley, says: ‘This campaign
showcases the great work of the IGDB while also highlighting the importance of looking after
your eyes by having an eye examination at least every two years.’

Specsavers now offers digital retinal photography across all 36 of its stores nationwide,
enabling its opticians to spot the early signs of a range of conditions, including diabetes, heart
disease, brain tumours, glaucoma and high blood pressure. Screening is offered at no
additional charge. Mr McCauley adds: ‘Like most charities, IGDB has been experiencing the
negative effect of the country’s recession, so we’d really appreciate public support in helping
us to achieve our €40,000 fundraising target. It’s more important than ever to get behind this
life-changing Irish charity.’

To enter the ‘Name a Pup’ competition, visit your nearest Specsavers store and suggest a
name beginning with the letter ‘S’ for one of the five adorable Specsavers puppies, in
exchange for a €2 donation. All entries must be submitted by Friday 31 December.

Volunteers needed for disability services in Romania – Summer 2011

Comber is an Irish charity working in Romania since 1990. We were set up to help alleviate
appalling conditions in Romania’s orphanages at the time. We now support adults with
intellectual and physical disabilities to leave institutional care and move into new homes in the
community. Since we were first set up we have sent over 500 Irish volunteers to work in

We are now seeking allied health and disability professionals in Ireland to become part of our
team in summer 2011. We have two five week volunteer programmes running between June
and September. We are now accepting applications. More details and application form can be
found at

We are seeking applications from people qualified in: Social Care Work, Social Work,
Disability Studies, Occupational Therapy, Psychology, Physiotherapy, Speech and Language
Therapy, Art & Drama Therapy, Intellectual Disability Nursing

Please contact or 087 9022216 if you have any questions.
Disability campaign launched

A campaign encouraging people to park right and consider those with disabilities has been
launched. Local Authority National Accessibility Week 2010 was launched last week and runs
until International Day of People with Disability on Friday 3 December.

It has been designed with a particular focus on illegal and inconsiderate parking, poor parking
behaviour and the difficulties and access issues that are caused by parking on footpaths and
blocking entrances.

Ramsey lends support to International Day for people with disabilities

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has lent his support to International Day of Persons with
Disabilities, today, aiming to promote a better understanding of disability issues. Mr Ramsey,
who is Chair of the Stormont All-Party Group on Learning Difficulty, said:

“I believe there is an onus on all of us to promote understanding of disability and promote the
rights of those with disabilities and the gains to be derived from the inclusion of disabled
people in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
“In respect of the Northern Ireland Assembly, this means that we must mainstream disability
within all areas of policy and legislation that ultimately affords people with disabilities the
exact same rights as everyone else. “I agree with Disability Action that the Office of First and
Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) should publish its response to the Promoting Social
Improvement. That would be a good place to start. “But we can also all play our bit. One in
every four families in Northern Ireland has a disability. It is up to everybody to support the
recognition of people with disabilities in all aspects of our society. Let us all pledge to be
champions of this cause.”


Deaf man can sit on jury, says judge (Irish Times)

Eithne Donnellan

A HIGH Court Judge has ruled for the first time that a deaf person can sit on a jury in the Central
Criminal Court. Mr Justice Paul Carney yesterday ruled that profoundly deaf teacher Senan Dunne
could sit on a trial jury with the aid of a sign language interpreter. He said objections to having a “13th
person in the jury room” in the form of a sign language interpreter could be met by the signer taking an
oath of confidentiality and the jury foreman ensuring that she or he was confined to translating what
went on.

Solicitor for Mr Dunne, Michael Farrell of the Free Legal Advice Centres (Flac), said while there had
been a blanket ban on deaf jurors, the law had changed in 2008. The issue now was whether it was
practical for deaf persons to serve. He said with the aid of signers and modern technology, jurors could
serve without difficulty. Juries could not be representative of the general public if deaf people were
excluded. Counsel for the DPP, Mary Ellen Ring SC, expressed concern about the confidentiality of jury
discussions but Mr Justice Carney ruled that Mr Dunne should be allowed to serve.

Lawyers for the defendant then challenged Mr Dunne under a rule that either side in a trial can
challenge up to seven jurors without having to give reasons. Mr Dunne had to stand down but remains
on the jury panel for other cases. Last month High Court judge Mr Justice Daniel O’Keeffe ruled a deaf
person’s ability to serve as a juror should be determined by a trial judge.
Flac welcomed yesterday decision saying the exclusion of deaf persons from juries was symbolic of the
fact that they are not treated equally in Irish society. This ruling was an important step towards ending
that discrimination, it said. It added that only last week a deaf person, represented by Flac, was asked to
leave the jury box in Tullamore Court because a Circuit Court judge ruled that he could not serve.

‘Robust’ report on efficiency of disability sector imminent (Irish Medical Times)

By Gary Culliton

A “robust” report that urges rationalisation and better monitoring of the performance of the
disability services programme is to be published within weeks. Some 69 per cent of the
money going to disability services – which cost €1.5 billion annually – is channelled through
voluntary organisations and the HSE has been criticised, in particular by the Comptroller and
Auditor General, about its monitoring of the programme.

A cost-cutting review has set out to minimise overheads, including administrative costs,
management structures, res-earch, advertising, “profile-building” and infrastructure costs. The
objectives of the review were to examine disability services funded by the HSE, including the
statutory and non-statutory sectors. It will identify the level and trend of costs and staffing res-
ources associated with disability services and evaluate their efficiency. The radical review will
also highlight which “policies and investments are sustainable in the context of the current
economic climate” and outline significant policy changes. A root-and-branch restructuring of
disability services will commence before the end of this year.

A draft Value for Money report from the Policy Expert Group on Disability, chaired by
Laurence Crowley, is now being finalised and it is hoped the report will be published in the
coming weeks. It is expected that “substantial progress on completing the overall review will
have been made by the end of 2010,” the Department of Health said. The report on the
efficiency and effectiveness of disability services is being undertaken as part of the
Government’s Value for Money Reviews for 2009-2011. This in-depth process examines how
well current services for people with disabilities meet their objectives and support the future
planning and development of services. The review looks at current policy targets and outlines
objectives for future service provision.

A Project Team and a Policy Expert Reference Group reporting to a Steering Group have
been meeting on a regular basis to progress the work of the review. The draft report from the
Policy Expert Group is being finalised and will be submitted to the Steering Group for
approval in the coming weeks, after which it will be circulated to other Government
departments for comment. It is hoped that it will be issued for public consultation before the
end of the year, the Department added.

Limerick disability campaigner claims nothing has changed in past 13 years (Limerick Leader)

ONE of the leaders of the campaign to prevent a respite service for those with intellectual
disabilities from closing has accused the Government of breaking promises, now, and 13
years ago. Owen South said they met the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, and the Minister for
Health, Mary Harney, on the issue.

"They both promised to come back to me, but neither of them has. We can't take anything
they say for granted. And this isn't the first time," said Mr South, whose late father, Ger, was
involved with the Limerick Parents and Friends Association of the Mentally Handicapped for
decades. "I recently found some old papers of his. In a letter from Brian Cowen to my father in
1997, when he was the Fianna Fail spokesperson on Health, he wrote: 'We will be making
mental handicap a priority area and it will be my intention to tackle the crisis and make it a
major policy area. It will be our intention to substantially improve services over the period of a
Government'," said Mr South.
He said they met Mr Cowen during the campaign to prevent the respite house closing earlier
this year, then the Taoiseach stood up in the Dail saying that "no respite services in the
country had been affected". The Brothers of Charity-run respite service was closed earlier in
the year after the funding was cut by the HSE by over €1m. Following a long campaign
against the cuts, the Brothers reopened the service in a different house with less hours, using
€50,000 from their "rainy day fund" and the rest to be raised by fundraising.

The families who use the service say they have saved the State millions by looking after their
children or siblings at home, and it is very unfair that they now have to fundraise to keep it
going "Does that sound like 'our intention to substantially improve services over the period of
a Government'? Thirteen years on it's the same old story," said Mr South, a Limerick Leader

Man claimed disability while working (Mayo Advertiser)

A Ballina man who claimed disability benefit while he worked on building sites, where he used a different
name and PPS number, was before Ballina District Court this week.

Michael McNulty, Belderrig, Ballina, was employed in the construction sector on various dates from
January 2007 to 2008. McNulty used his brother-in-law’s name and PPS number while he worked.
During this time more than €6,000 worth of benefit was paid to the defendant, who had failed to notify
the Department of Social Protection about his change of circumstances.

The court heard that an arrangement has been put in place for McNulty, who still receives benefit, to pay
back €15 a week.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy adjourned the matter to May 10 to see if the payments are being made.

Sexual abuse laws ‘need urgent changes’ (Irish Examiner)

By Cormac O’Keeffe

There were mounting demands yesterday for urgent changes to the law after the collapse of a
case involving the alleged sexual abuse of a woman with an intellectual disability. The judge
presiding over the trial directed the jury to acquit the defendant after ruling the law did not
provide     an    offence      for    the     alleged    circumstances      of    the    case.

The 61-year-old accused had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the now 23-year-old
woman on December 11, 2008. The prosecution alleged the man had asked the young
woman, who has an intellectual age of 8 to 9 years, to follow him outside and then repeatedly
asked her to perform a "blow job". The young woman told gardaí during a recorded interview
shown to the jury she had been forced to perform the act and that she kept saying "no" when
the man said "go on".

Mr Justice Barry White said he "utterly abhorred" the thought of an allegation of someone
taking advantage of a person with a mental impairment, but said "justice must be
administered in a cold, dispassionate and analytic way". He told the jury the accused had
been charged under section 4 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990, which does
not have regard to any mental impairment a complainant may have. He said there was
legislation in place which makes certain sexual activity with a mentally impaired person illegal,
but it does not provide an offence for the alleged circumstances of this case.
Cliona Saidlear of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland said: "There are laws that specifically
address the vulnerability of people with an intellectual disability to sexual crimes, but they only
name a very few types of sexual crimes, so there’s a huge number of sexual acts that are not
included. The legislation needs to be amended to include all the different forms of sexual

Fine Gael justice spokesman Alan Shatter said this issue had been highlighted by a number
of Oireachtas committees, but claimed their findings had been ignored by the government. He
demanded that emergency legislation be brought in.

Inclusion Ireland, the National Association for People with an Intellectual Disability, said the
law must be changed to "make all sexual offences, against people with an intellectual
disability, criminal".

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said the minister was not in a position to
comment on individual cases. But she added that "this area of the law" was again being
examined by the Law Reform Commission.

Disabled Bearing the Pain (Irish Examiner)

By Caroline O’Doherty

Gerry Doyle holds a photograph of his son Patrick, who receives residential care at a facility
run by the Brothers of Charity in Ballybane, Galway. One apple cut in half, one-third of a
cucumber, 14 grapes, a plum, three strawberries, a raw carrot, Doritos crisps and a particular
selection of sweets. Gerry and Mary Doyle, their daughter and younger son prepare the
goody bag with utmost care, ensuring every item is included in the specified size and

They take it to their middle child, Patrick, when they go with him for his walks which are two-
and-a-half miles long, conducted at a breathless pace to be completed in 45 minutes with the
same route and crossing points followed on each occasion. Patrick, 26, is autistic and his
strictly observed routine is the way he makes sense of a world that can otherwise stress and
disturb him. These are feelings his parents have often shared with him as they too struggle to
make sense of a world that doesn’t appear to value their son. Patrick was diagnosed as
autistic at the age of 11, eight-and-a-half years after concerns were first raised about his pace
of development. At first his sparse speech made doctors think, incorrectly, that he was deaf
and later he was wrongly labelled severely mentally handicapped.

By 11, when the correct diagnosis was finally made, Patrick had no speech at all and the
years lost to misdiagnosis and lack of proper services have never been made up. "Autism
has to be caught early because whatever potential the person has, it has to be grabbed
immediately and worked on," Gerry says with regret. But it isn’t just timely intervention that
makes the difference — it’s also the availability of appropriate and quality of support services.
On that point, Gerry feels Patrick has been let down a second time.

Gerry was one of the parents group which approached the Irish Human Rights Commission in
2004 to ask for an investigation into the John Paul Centre, the residential and day care facility
run by the Brothers of Charity in Ballybane, Galway, which Patrick was attending as a day
client and which currently cares for him as a full-time resident. The parents believed the
state’s failure to adequately fund the centre left it unable to provide proper care or therapies
and so breached the rights of its very vulnerable students and residents. The Commission
agreed and, in a report published earlier this year, said the HSE should provide funding for
improvements to the accommodation, an extra speech and language therapist, occupational
therapist and psychiatrist and at least a minimal level of respite care.
It also said the Department of Education needed to review its involvement with the centre with
a view to ensuring at least a minimal level of educational facilities. With bitter irony the report
was published on March 30, the same day that Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced
the first transfer of toxic debt to NAMA, his remark that the scale of the banking disaster was
"truly shocking" ensuring him not only national but international headlines. That news left the
415-page report on the John Paul Centre in the shade — in more ways than one. It got slight
media coverage and the Brothers of Charity, far from getting money for all the improvements
the Commission pinpointed, have seen their HSE funding cut by €2 million with further
reductions planned for 2011.

Patrick Doyle lived at home, attending the day centre in JPC and availing of respite care, until
June of last year when his parents made the heartbreaking decision to move him into
residential care full time. His behaviour had become too challenging for them to cope with,
and while they still hope to bring him back to live with them again when his behaviour
improves, Gerry fears any further cuts at the centre may reduce Patrick’s chances of making
progress. "He has been going swimming on Fridays recently. He was always a brilliant
swimmer. This is a big help to Patrick, but if there are more cutbacks, this may be at risk."
Patrick has little interest in TV or other forms of entertainment that would help fill long hours
and stimulate his mind. He has been out of what limited education was available since the
age of 18 because, as an adult, he is not entitled to it. "He’s in a very nice house, but he has
regressed in the past due to a lack of stimulating activities. He needs plenty of physical
exercise daily — walks, swimming and cycling. If he doesn’t get activities he becomes
frustrated and angry and his challenging behaviour gets worse." says Gerry. "It’s more difficult
for staff to cope with him, not to mention his family and other service users."

Patrick is on a high dosage of medication and Gerry feels this could have been eliminated, or
at least reduced, if he had received appropriate services in the past and if he could now
receive more therapeutic supports as recommended by the human rights report. Patrick’s
situation doesn’t surprise Frank Conaty of the National Parents and Siblings Alliance which
campaigns for the rights of people with intellectual disability and autism. "There is still a
shocking deficit in basic required services," he says.

The Alliance is pleading, more in hope than optimism, that their members’ loved ones be
spared the hardship that seems inevitable in next week’s budget. Frank argues that needs
don’t diminish just because funding does. "People with disabilities will not disappear or
emigrate," he says.

Inclusion Ireland, which also campaigns for people with intellectual disability, have a similar
plea, urging that services remain untouched, and pointing out that many people have yet to
enjoy even the minimum standards of care they deserve — such as those who remain
inappropriately placed in psychiatric institutions.

The Disability Federation of Ireland said people with disabilities, their families and carers,
were terrified of what would happen in the budget. Its chief executive John Dolan said
cutbacks now would undo progress that had taken years to achieve. "Surely we have to think
long term about actions we take in the short term," he said during the launch of the group pre-
budget submission.

Despite their pleas, it seems inevitable that people with disabilities will take a hit next week.
The Government had no qualms about cutting the Disability Allowance by €8 a week after last
year’s budget. Add that to the loss of the Christmas bonus and the reduction was almost
6%. The allowance doesn’t go very far — €145 of Patrick Doyle’s €196 weekly payment goes
on his residential care fees and outings, leaving him with €51 — not much to improve his
quality of life. His parents pay for Patrick’s VHI premium and for most of his clothing, footwear
and other needs. Their concerns are the things they can’t personally provide for their son —
the professional therapeutic and educational services he urgently requires. "What makes me
really angry is that there are children of two and three years old now who could end up in the
same situation as Patrick.
We all know about autism now and how to diagnose it and what’s needed for it, but the
feedback I am getting from other parents is that while their children are getting the correct
assessment earlier, there aren’t adequate services to refer them to. The frontline staff in the
John Paul Centre are very capable, dedicated, hard-working, caring people. That’s a comfort
to me and my wife. But the problem is that the Government, even during the so-called boom
years, did not provide enough funding for adequate or appropriate staffing for even basic
services for our adults with disabilities. At the same time they had little difficulty spending
millions on legal fees in the courts fighting parents who took cases to try to get those services
provided for their children.”

"In Patrick’s case, we’ll never get back the time we lost, but it’s never too late to start if you
have proper therapy. As a member of the parent group here in Galway we will do everything
we can to try and get the recommendations of the human rights report implemented. Some of
the parents have fought for basic services for over 30 years. What I worry about is that if the
services get worse — and definitely if Patrick is not getting enough activities his behaviour will
get worse. It was an awful feeling for me and my wife the day Patrick went into full-time care
— you feel like you are giving away your child. But we fear that things may even get worse
and we dread the day when maybe we will not be able to see him at all."

Disability Allowance

- Close to 100,000 people were in receipt of the Disability Allowance last year but, taking into
account dependent spouses and children, 133,000 relied on it.
- The cost to the state was €1.1 billion, up 8.6% on 2008 although that figure may have fallen
this year as the maximum payment was cut from €204 per week to €196 from last January.

- The four-year National Recovery Plan includes the Disability Allowance in the group of
‘working age’ welfare payments it says should be replaced by a single social assistance

- It is not singled out for a cut, but the plan does stress that the state cannot afford the current
level of welfare payments.

- The plan also cuts by €600,000 investment in unspecified disability - projects under the
Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

- Next week’s budget will be watched closely for any changes to the medical card, especially
following remarks Health Minister Mary Harney in recent days when she said that while there
would be no further restrictions on eligibility, different people could find themselves receiving
different levels of benefits under the scheme.

- Almost all Disability Allowance recipients qualify for the Free Travel, and about a third get
the free television licence, free phone rental and electricity allowance, or some combination of
the three, so these are also areas they will be watching in next week’s budget.

- Many recipients are assisted by carers so there is also concern about what will happen to
the Carers Allowance as well as the HSE-run home care packages and home help schemes.

- The Disability Allowance is means-tested and applicants, or recipients whose cases are
under review, may be sent to a medical assessor for examination.

- It is notable that last year, for the first time in a decade, more people who were assessed
were refused the allowance than were granted it.

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