Leo Varadkar urged to raise support for carers

The Government should rethink tax cuts for high earners and instead increase support for carers who cannot get respite, according to Fianna Fáil.

Under questioning from the opposition party in the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted carers do not need “soothing words” and action is now needed to support those looking after some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin told Mr Varadkar that carers who are in “appalling and heart-rending” situations do “not want politicians saying that they are full of respect, concern, and admiration” for them but need the funding to put proper supports in place.

“It is not that there is not sufficient respite out there; there is no respite out there. We cannot get respite care for people in dire situations.”

He said there are almost 5,000 people with intellectual disabilities who will require new residential, day, and respite services from 2018 to 2021, while a further 10,500 people who have existing services will require different services in that period.

These services require €200m in additional funding, but Mr Martin said the health minister only got €75m extra this year.

“That covers Lansdowne Road [agreement] and service developments for the previous year, leaving very little for new, additional services,” he said.

“If the Government does not acknowledge that there is a crisis out there, it makes the challenge of dealing with it all the more difficult. “

Mr Varadkar said the entire Government is full of concern and respect for the enormous and important work that family carers do.

He said “significant actions” had been taken by the current Government, including the restoration of the carer support grant, and an increase in the Christmas bonus and a partial restoration of the carer’s allowance.

Mr Varadkar took aim at Mr Martin who pointed to Fianna Fáil’s record in government of cutting the disability budget three years in a row and taking €16.50 per week from carers and people with disabilities.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams suggested a 20% rise in respite care hours would cost €13m and meet the expected demand.

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