Tuesday, 17 December 2019
Section 39 Organisations: Motion [Private Members]
I welcome the opportunity to speak on this very important motion. I congratulate my colleague, Deputy Ó Caoláin, for bringing it forward. I thank most of the House for their genuine support. For the people outside who are wondering what we are debating I will put it in basic simple terms. The heart of the motion is calling on the Department of the Taoiseach to intensively engage with the not-for-profit sector to develop a long-term vision that would allow the sector and future Governments to provide services in a more integrated approach, underpinned by any new legislative change required and with substantial levels of funding. It also calls for future Governments to give due recognition to the not-for-profit sector by creating a portfolio for a Minister of State for the community, voluntary and not-for-profit sectors.
Who are we letting down if we do not support the motion and try to push matters forward? As has been mentioned so many times during the debate, we will leave down the very people who work with young people, the disabled, the elderly and people suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues. The list goes on and on. I can mention community and voluntary organisations in east Cork, from Cobh to Carrigtwohill, Connagh, Mallow, Fermoy, Mitchelstown and Midleton. I could go on. These services are vital.
What is really worrying is what would happen if on 1 January 2020 all of the organisations decided not to do it any more. Who would suffer? Absolutely everyone. This is about equality. The Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, mentioned the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in his speech. We have not even driven it forward yet. We are the last in Europe to do so. We are lagging behind. I cannot understand how many times I have come to the Chamber and said the two hardest things to do in this country are to tell the truth and help people. I have found something else for the list, which is do the right thing.
I also want to talk about invisible carers. The latest data from the CSO frightened me, as it states that 44,227 hours of care per week are provided by children under 15. That is 2.2 million hours of care provided by children under the age of 15 in one year. It is absolutely frightening.
My mother has been a carer for 30 years and she is very proud of what she does but it is stressful and there is a catch-22 situation. She does not want to leave people down. She has been a volunteer with the Irish Wheelchair Association since I could hardly walk. My mother is now in her 70s but she will not give it up because she feels like she would be letting people down.
The motion is about helping people and giving people the supports they need to live life in a manner where they can be satisfied that they have the best quality of life available to them.
All of us here are very lucky in that tomorrow morning we will be able to get out of bed. There are many people in this country who in the morning will be waiting for carers to come and help them out of bed. If we lose these vital services we will be facing a tsunami. As stated many times on the record, we have an ageing population. If we do not support section 39 organisations in the same way as we support 38 organisations and recognise the work of these voluntary organisations, everybody in the country will suffer.
This Private Members' motion is about delivering fairness for everyone. I am glad that the majority of Members of the House will support it. I call on the Government to withdraw its countermotion and to do the right thing before the new year.