Cabinet needs to reassess Governments commitments to People with Disabilities - Mistakes Made that Must be Reversed

November 6 2013


Press Release 3rd September 2012

The Department of Health and the HSE were under pressure to cut their budget by the year end and last week announced draconian cuts to services for people with disabilities and older people.

John Dolan , Chief Executive Officer, Disability Federation of Ireland stated today

“Health services have not stayed within budget because measures to deal with, drug costs, consultants pay and various premium and other allowances were not put in place. Disabled people and elderly people are being targeted because they are seen as the most immediate and easiest way to get those savings.”

He added

“The Minister for Health and Government have failed to keep their 2012 health Budget on track and now people with disabilities and older people are asked to pay the price.”

John Dolan continued

“These cuts are unacceptable. Government has made a serious mistake by putting political expediency before their commitment to protect vulnerable people. How could €10 million be saved from a €40 million budget for PA over the remainder of this year without wiping out the whole service? Serious mistakes and miscalculations have been made here. I expect Government will deal with its mismanagement of this issue and reverse the wrongful cuts, at its Cabinet meeting tomorrow”

John Dolan concluded

“What Government is doing to turn the economy and employment around is necessary but alone it will not be successful. With that focus must go an equally determined focus on ensuring that people have access to necessary health and social services particularly in the community. This is where they need to show ambition and leadership and bring all of civil society into the problem solving equation”.

John Dolan, CEO, DFI 086 8370072

Allen Dunne, Deputy CEO 086 8502112

Background Information to accompany Press Release of 3rd September, 2012

(A) In the Prime Time, pre-election debate chaired by Miriam O’Callaghan on 22 February, 2012, Miriam O’Callaghan asked the following question, almost at the end of the debate:

“If you had one key social justice or equality issue that you would pursue if in government, what would it be?”

In response:

Eamonn Gilmore:

“I think it be looking after people with disabilities. The first area that Labour in Government would address in terms of equality and in terms of giving decent supports to people would be people with disabilities. I think as a Country, I think we have to make that the priority”

Enda Kenny:

“That's very laudable, I share that”

(B) The Government introduced its Programme for National Recovery with a Statement of Common Purpose, promising,

“By the end of our term in Government Ireland will be recognised as a modern, fair, socially inclusive and equal society supported by a productive and prosperous economy.”

(C) On the 17 th October, 2011 the Minister for State, Minister Kathleen Lynch, in an opening address at ‘Facing the Future: Individualisation’ information evening organised by Mid West Parents in Limerick stated her commitment to people with disabilities:

“I want to assure you here this evening, that while there is no getting away from the fact that there has to be substantial cuts in public expenditure in the forthcoming budget, I will do my utmost to ensure that those with disabilities are protected to the greatest extent possible.” [1]

(D) On the 5th December, 2011, Minister Kathleen Lynch, again highlighted her commitment to people with disabilities in stating that:

“There is only one way forward for disability services in the current environment,” the Minister went on “and that is to accelerate the reform process, supporting more people with disabilities to live independent lives in the community with supports, providing them with a better quality of life and reducing our dependency on costly staff-intensive models of service. The forthcoming Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services will give important pointers in this regard” [2]

(E) On the 5 th December 2011, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform’s Statement on Expenditure Estimates for 2012 was released, outlining the areas where savings in health were to be made. It stated that:

“We must strive to make savings that do not impact on frontline services. Today I am announcing a total of €543 million in net savings in the Health area which, in addition to reducing our deficit, will be used to meet unavoidable pressures in Health, as well as the extension of key services in some areas. We will: - Introduce measures to reduce the price of drugs, such as reference pricing and generic drugs, and reduced fees for services, to save €112 million - Improve the generation and collection of private income in public hospitals to save €143 million”


[1] The announcement on the 30 th August 2012, of €10 million cuts to Personal Assistance Services (25% of the overall budget for PA services) in order to make savings for the remainder of the year has in effect put an end to this service for people with disabilities.

[2] The Value for Money and Policy Review report was published in July 2012.