Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to make it clear that the Winter Plan will deliver the necessary funding to support people with disabilities.
Deputy McDonald has written to Minister Donnelly to raise her concerns at the delays in making the vital funding available, and the disastrous impact that this is having on service provision.
Speaking this afternoon, Teachta McDonald said: “Services for people living with disabilities have taken a massive hit as a result of the Covid-19 emergency.
“Day services for people with disabilities have been particularly affected with capacity still operating at only 40%.
“Despite the fact that service providers submitted their cost requirements to the government in June, they have not received the funding to put in place the infection prevention and control measures and the additional space necessary to return services to full capacity.
“The delays in delivering this vital funding is completely unacceptable and it is having real-world consequences for people with disabilities.
“Many people have been left without the vital supports they need while families and carers have been stretched to incredible lengths, many to breaking point. The sense of abandonment they feel cannot be overstated.
“I have written to Minister Donnelly asking him to confirm that the government will now provide the level of funding required to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic for the remainder of 2020 and for 2021.
“The Minister must also ensure that this funding is ring-fenced and protected from shortfalls in other areas and service providers must be told when exactly they will receive this important funding. They have been waiting too long already.
“The disability sector was struggling due to lack of funding even before the pandemic hit. It is time Minister Donnelly and this government realised the extraordinary challenges faced by people with disabilities, their families and by service providers, especially during this crisis.
“He must now provide the financial certainty that disability services need to deliver the supports that some of our most vulnerable people rely on.”