HEALTH Minister Mary Harney has said no extra money can be given to disability services this year, but insisted that current difficulties over respite care will be resolved.
“Notwithstanding the financial pressure, there is no reason why respite services should be withdrawn and they’re not going to be withdrawn,” she said yesterday.
“Clearly, if people cannot provide respite services, we’ll have to look at others that can provide those services.”
A Limerick facility for adults with intellectual disabilities, run by the Brothers of Charity, has been closed for several weeks because of budget cuts.
Another Brothers of Charity facility in Galway has similar budget difficulties which has led to the prospect of reduced respite care.
Last night Minister for Disability John Moloney met with National Federation of Voluntary Bodies Providing Services to People with Intellectual Disability and the group described the meeting as “constructive and productive”. The group got a “solid commitment” that there would be no further cuts to services in 2010. And the commitment for new service development funding for 201 would be “secured in full”.
On Wednesday evening Ms Harney and Junior Minister John Moloney met with the Brothers of Charity.
Following that meeting, Mr Moloney told the Dáil that the Brothers of Charity had agreed to maintain respite care at its present levels in the Galway facility.
They would do so “within currently available resources”, Mr Moloney said, and he pledged that there would be no further cuts to the existing budget allocation.
“The issue of demanding a further cut of €2m is not on the table,” he said. “Last week’s suggestion of seeking a further €2m will not be acted upon in the context of this year’s service.”
He said the Limerick facility had been closed over a shortfall of just €145,000 in a €30m budget.
The Brothers of Charity had indicated that the respite service could be restored if that shortfall was made up, and pledged to work with the Health Service Executive to arrange this.
“When the restoration will occur is for the Brothers to say,” Mr Moloney said.
But Ms Harney indicated that if the Brothers could not reopen the Limerick centre, the HSE would find another provider.
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