THE Limerick respite care row intensified last night with Labour Health spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan accusing the Government of perpetrating a “fundamental wrong” on families who care for relatives with intellectual disabilities.
Due to government cutbacks, a respite house run by the Brothers of Charity at Old Cork Road was closed down last June.
Following protests, an alternative respite home will open early next month.
However, families have been told they will have to raise €100,000 a year to go towards the €150,000 running costs.
People with intellectual disabilities use a respite home when their family carers need time to go away for short periods or have to go to hospital.
Widow Sarah Hurley, who is in her late 70s, has cared for her son, John, 43, who has Down syndrome, all her life.
She brings him to the Brothers of Charity day care centre in Bawnmore each morning and collects him each evening.
Ms Hurley said: “I use the respite home a few days a month, if I have to go somewhere. After it closed I was devastated.”
Jan O’Sullivan said families who avail of the respite service run by the Brothers of Charity should not have to pay its running costs.
She said: “I believe it is fundamentally wrong. I don’t see why families in Limerick should have to fund this service, when every other part of the country is funded from HSE funds.”
Ms O’Sullivan said the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, on a visit to Limerick recently, gave an assurance the service in Limerick was not under threat.
“It needs to be sorted out and the families, who are saving the state huge sums, by caring for relatives with intellectual disabilities in their own homes, should not be put in this situation,” she said.
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