ANNA Potiomicina held her daughter tightly as she tried to explain how health cutbacks at the Daughter’s of Charity service in Dublin would impact on her family.
You would think holding her would be the easy part – it isn’t.
Anna’s daughter, Ella, is 12 and an exercise in perpetual motion. She has severe autism and visits the Developmental Educational Centre at the Daughters of Charity every single day.
Such is her need for movement Anna had to effectively take her in a bear hug. “I am single, I am working and she is my whole life, she is the air that I breathe,” Ms Potiomicina said. “I want to challenge the politicians. They are supposed to serve the nation, so why do they not give up their expenses for a year and help us give the treatment our children need.”
Mere feet away, one of those politicians was talking to staff at the St Vincent’s Centre on the Navan Road.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny’s meet-and-greet at the facility, one of a number facing swinging cuts imposed by the HSE, ended with him suggesting such cuts were “an indictment of a Government that has lost its ability to be really caring, and they cannot see the folly of their ways”.
He said wastage within the health service and cost-saving proposals contained in the McCarthy Report could help service users, who he said needed to be “a priority”.
Many who met with the Fine Gael leader told similar stories. Anna, who moved here from Georgia in 1998, said she now faced the probability of just one night of respite in August – “I am a prisoner in my own home.”
Oral Noone, whose emotive letter featured on page one of this paper earlier this week, and her mother Noreen, were on hand to tell Mr Kenny of their hardships.
Veronica Honan from Castleknock, whose 5-year-old son Cian, spoke of the therapy provided at the centre and how his place cannot be guaranteed from this September.
“They need one-on-one,” she said. “I don’t know what our options are. I can’t have him at home with me five days a week – look at the size of me.” Veronica is a petite woman, and even at the tender age of five, her son could be too much to handle.
In another room Sharon Reilly from Finglas wiped the mouth of her son, Adam, who has difficulty swallowing.
Meanwhile, three people carriers, vehicles bought through the efforts of the parents and carers at St Vincent’s, lie idle, as the centre cannot employ qualified people to drive them.
The Daughters of Charity operate three centres in this part of Dublin, on the Navan Road, in Clonsilla and in Chapelizod, catering from the every young to the very old. In St Louise’s in Clonsilla 141 elderly women are residents, including Kathleen, sister of Angela Norris.
Angela said: “I could not sleep at night if I thought my sister was not being minded.”
Denis Cronin, assistance chief executive of the Daughters of Charity, said it had another meeting with the HSE’s local health officer next Wednesday, and he was hoping they would be singing a different tune in comparison to earlier meetings, when the Daughters were told they would have to reduce staff from 1,046 to 990.
In a discussion with some staff Mr Kenny was heard to mutter the situation was “a disgrace”.
It may not be enough to satisfy Anna’s call for action, but for once it seemed that the politicians have it right.
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