Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Section 39 Organisations: Motion [Private Members]
I am happy to speak on this motion. As we all know, not-for-profit organisations provide vital services for all communities throughout Ireland. They provide healthcare, social inclusion, community development and support services for people with disabilities, the youth and the elderly. These groups took the lead when the Government did not. I fully understand and see first-hand the good that section 39 funding has done for community and voluntary organisations.
I am involved in a couple of these voluntary organisations. They are the Goleen and District Community Council and Schull Community Care. These organisations, as do many other community and voluntary organisations throughout the country, simply provide meals in the local community building and in the local social centre where people can come in a couple of times a week for a hot meal. In my community between Goleen and Schull, thanks to section 39 we can provide a hot meal for people in the local community centre or meals on wheels to their door. This in turn saves the State millions of euro as a hot meal for an elderly person seven days a week keeps that elderly person in his or her home and not in the local hospital.
Do people realise that the local community and voluntary group run section 39 funds in many communities? This creates a lot of headaches for volunteers sorting out payments for workers. These workers, who diligently work long, hard hours, are poorly paid because the Government fails to realise their value. This is because community and voluntary groups are at the bottom of the Government's list. Most section 39 workers work for the community and voluntary sector. All we have from the Government year after year is that it will be sorted out next year. It will not sort itself out. The reason the Government cannot sort it out is because it threw billions of euro into a pet project, a huge hole in the ground in the children's hospital in Dublin, which showed massive incompetence. We have no home help service because of it. We have no transport for children with disabilities over 18 years of age. The Government has let people go blind begging for a cataract operation. This weekend, the 50th bus will leave Cork for Belfast in a desperate attempt by people to save their eyesight. It is a 15-minute procedure that the Government cannot fund. It is no wonder that section 39 workers are poorly treated. I fully support the motion.