Protests over cuts to disability services

Thousands of protesters are marching in Dublin, Castlebar and Galway this afternoon to voice their opposition to cuts in disability services.

People with intellectual difficulties and their families are marching to Leinster House in Dublin because they say the National Disability Strategy has been gradually dismantled over the last two years.

Respite services have been particularly affected, with Brothers of Charity facilities saying they have to cut back services after having their budgets cut by the HSE.

Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Pat Carey however said the HSE has to examine all cost saving measures.

"There are areas where savings can be made that don't impinge on the effectiveness of front-line services," Minister Carey said.

"The Government are determined to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected."

Meanwhile in the Dáil, Taoiseach Brian Cowen angrily rejected charges that he had no compassion for the thousands of people who have no voice.

"I want to make it very clear," the Taoiseach said.

"It is not acceptable to me or to this Government that respite services will be cut.

"It will not happen, as far as I am concerned."

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