Thursday, 10 September 2020
Services for People with Disabilities: Statements
Mattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
I too congratulate the Minister of State and wish her all the best in her very challenging and important role, which concerns disabilities of all kinds. We pay lip service to the disability sector and breach UN conventions regularly but we do not seem to care.
Covid has had a shocking impact of the capacity of those with profound disabilities, from young children right up to the elderly, to avail of services. I wish to refer to two cases in this regard, one concerning a young person, a constituent's daughter. She received a letter on 30 July 2020 stating she had been accepted by the Brothers of Charity. Her mother was delighted. The daughter finished in Scoil Chormaic, a great institution in Cashel, last March because of Covid and did a trial in Dún Aoibhinn in Clonmel, a wonderful house where she understood she would be getting a place in September. She did not get it however. She is 18 years of age, waiting at home, wilting away and regressing.
The other case concerns a man I know very well. He is 62 years of age. He attends Cluain Árann, as well as Cuan Croí in Tipperary town. This is a wonderful service but such services are all closed. The man cannot avail of a respite service in Cluain Árann every eight weeks. Cuan Croí is a wonderful place that I often visit but the doors are closed. All these places are locked up. We find that skilled people from the HSE who are needed in these services are out doing contract tracing although thousands of people signed up to Ireland’s cause and offered help. The HSE is utterly dysfunctional. The Minister of State knows that and was in opposition long enough to know it.
The disability service is so sensitive. It is so important for the young people affected. I know them. Can one imagine being incarcerated? Can one imagine not being able to go off in the bus with the carers and driver, who are part of a wonderful community, to and from a day services centre? Their being able to do so would allow for interaction with others. For the service to be closed up since March, thus locking out those in need of it, is criminal. While we must listen to the advice of NPHET, we must also be cognisant of the impact on people's lives, including their mental health. Consider the mental health of the families of those in need of services. They see their loved ones suffering and cannot do anything about it. I appeal to the Minister of State, the Minister and Taoiseach to say to NPHET that they heed its advice, that its advice is important and that it is qualified to give it but that they have to strike a balance overall, accounting for the impact on mental and physical health and on those with special needs. The latter cannot just be sidelined and marginalised.