Carer: TDs’ words just ‘crocodile tears’

The carer whose letter underlined national anger over planned respite care cuts has told TDs unless they prevent the move their sympathy and words of support are only “crocodile tears”.

Pat O’Mahony made the comment after he and his wife Margaret, for whom he is a full-time carer, heard Taoiseach Enda Kenny say he sympathises with their situation.

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, the Fine Gael leader said the Government “has to make a lot of very difficult decisions”.

“I feel for Mr O’Mahony and his wife Margaret, but the carers’ package is uncut and the grant is still being paid at a rate of €1,375,” Mr Kenny said.

Despite the attempt to connect with the Cork City couple, Mr O’Mahony said he and his wife will only believe the sympathy when TDs take decisions that affect them instead of targeting the vulnerable.

He said TDs should cut their pay to €60,000 and reduce hidden Dáil costs.

“If what Mr Kenny said was really the case [that they sympathise with their situation], then he and the other TDs would reduce costs in the Dáil, reduce their wages and costs, but they’re not doing that.

“There’s a lot of questions over who really cares about us in there. If they cut their own pay to €60,000 or so, cut back on other things for themselves, maybe they could say that. But they don’t, and Margaret and me just feel it’s a lot of shouting from them in power and opposition without really doing anything for us.

“Margaret was saying to me last night the letter’s opened a can of worms, it’s got some interest for what’s happening, but [the] TDs think they can still just do the cuts and don’t really care,” he said.

Among the politicians to have raised the couple’s case in the Dáil yesterday were Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams. They were responding to Mr O’Mahony’s open letter in this newspaper, where he pleaded with Mr Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, and Government TDs to vote with their conscience.

Mr O’Mahony said he has been caring for his wife Margaret — a polio survivor and avid musician — for more than 20 years.

Due to her condition, Margaret, a mother of four, is in a wheelchair, has breathing, speech, and sleep problems, can only consume food and drink of a “custard” consistency, and cannot regulate her body temperature.


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