Cuts to disability organisations are causing vital services to shut down for the “most vulnerable” in society, the chief executive of the Disability Federation of Ireland has said.
John Dolan said the withdrawal of almost €1.2 million in funding from 25 disability and care-focused groups last week was a “devastating blow” to the sector.
“At this rate, by the end of next year, we will no longer have the basic elements in place to support people with disabilities,” he said.
Mr Dolan was speaking at the launch of a campaign in Dublin today to convince the new Cabinet, expected to be announced tomorrow, to reinstate the money and appoint a minister for disability.
“We desperately need a minister to protect the core services in disability,” he said.
Mr Dolan said the federation, an umbrella body representing 120 organisations, had to take immediate action after the allocation for the 2014-2016 round of Scheme to Support National Organisations left many disability groups “stranded or struggling”.
“The disability movement had been hit hard by the steady corrosion of vital services and supports, which allow these people and their families the dignity and independence they are entitled to,” he said.
Mr Dolan said groups such has Chronic Pain Ireland would be forced to shut down in less than a year.
“We cannot let this hugely serious issue slip between the cracks. There will be no future for people with disabilities if the supports and services they require continue to be demolished this way,” he said.
Mags Rogers, of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, said the group would have to close unless other funding could be found. “This cannot happen. Once the services are removed, they cannot be replaced,” she said.
“Eleven neurological organisations applied for funding and all eleven were turned down. This has a decimating effect on the neurological sector.”
Ms Rogers said they represented more than 700,000 people who live with a neurological conditions in Ireland, which include epilepsy, Alzheimer’s’s disease and Parkinsons.
Catherine Aspel, of Brí, an organisation that supports those living with brain injuries, said it had lost an office and two staff as a result of the cut.
“It leaves us and those we support in a hugely difficult and uncertain situation,” she said.