A year after troika passed it on, Cecilia still awaits Kenny reply to cuts letter

The grandmother of a toddler with Down’s syndrome has been waiting a year for a response from the Taoiseach and three government ministers to correspondence about disability cuts referred to them on her behalf by the troika.

Cecilia Kehoe from Kildare sent Christmas cards to the main troika decision- makers last year with the words “Season’s Greetings” and an account of how cuts announced in the Dec 2012 budget — particularly to the respite care allowance — would affect her family.

“I wanted to know why such an unconscionable act of penalising the most vulnerable in our society could be at the behest of the troika; as the Government consistently suggested, and continues to intimate to the public...” she told the Irish Examiner.

But, she said, the troika reply “completely undermined this contention” .

Ms Kehoe received a response in early January from the IMF mission chief to Ireland, Craig Beaumont; the European Commission’s head of economic and financial affairs, István Pal Székely; and ECB economist Rodrígeuz Palenzuela.

They told her they were “very sorry to hear” budget cuts would mean her grandson would be denied speech and language therapy, but said they “never suggested or endorsed measures that would reduce services for people with disabilities”.

The troika officials wanted to assure her that while the EU-IMF sets down “over- arching policy goals” to restore financial sustainability, it leaves policy decisions to the Irish Government.

They said proposals to reduce spending in healthcare “took into account the excessive increase in healthcare spending during the boom years without a commensurate increase in the amount or quality of healthcare services provided to Irish citizens”.

It gave the example that the cost of a GP visit is “significantly higher in Ireland than in other EU countries, with smaller income levels, and the cost of prescription drugs is also very high”.

Ms Kehoe said, despite the troika having the “courtesy” to reply to her within weeks with a “very comprehensive response” she has heard nothing from anyone in the Government.

Ms Kehoe said she expected correspondence from the Departments of Public Expenditure, Social Protection, Finance and the Taoiseach, after the troika’s promise to refer her correspondence to them: “I was surprised and delighted that the three members of [the] troika replied to me, a private citizen on Jan 8 last. I had hoped that, on receipt of my card, via the troika, the relevant departments would have shown similar courtesy by sending me a response.”

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