Carers from across Limerick are urging the Government to reverse the decision to cut the respite care grant next year.
A protest was staged outside City Hall on Monday where a number of carers voiced their anger at the €325 cut, which was announced in last week’s budget.
Catherine Callinan, Oola, who cares for her own child, says the respite grant should not have been targeted in the budget.
“I was disgusted [when I heard about the cut], especially when they said they weren’t cutting the core payments. It came as a shock,” she said.
Ms Callinan says the work being done by carers is undervalued.
“We are doing a great job, we are saving the country millions every year in caring for children and so on. By cutting the Respite care grant they have affected the carers”.
Another woman from Kilmallock, who cares for her elderly father, says the cut in the respite grant is unfair.
“I gave up work three years ago because he has so many appointments and so much care to have,” she said adding that the money from the grant is used to fund respite services for her father.
“Mr respite grant is actually kept there [at the respite centre] so that when he actually gets ill I can actually put him somewhere for a week where he has got a nurse on call all the time,” the woman told the Leader.
Eleanor McSherry, whose son Denis (14) suffers from Aspergers Syndrome, says the cut in the respite care grant must be reversed.
“I don’t get a medical card, I don’t get carer’s allowance, I don’t get a back-to-school allowance, I don’t get any of those things,” she said.
“All I get is the domiciliary care allowance and the respite care allowance, that pays for everything. I can’t work, I can’t go back to work,” she added.
Another parent, Shirley Mulcahy, who has two sons with Autism said the cut in the respite grant has created unnecessary stress for carers.
“The Government is meant to be supporting families and helping them with their kids but it just causes so much stress in the family.
“Even getting through the minefield of bureaucratic red tape to get applications in that will be viewed fairly and considered is stressful,” she said adding that she uses the respite grant to pay for private therapies for her children due to cuts in public services.
Lindsey Power, who also took part in the protest said the grant is vital to her.
“It is very important to me as the carer of a special needs child myself, I only received the respite grant a year ago and it is an absolute lifeline to me. It gives me the break each year that I look forward to and it gives me the strength to carry on,” she said
Sinn Fein city councillor, Maurice Quinlivan, who attended Monday’s protest, says he is supporting the carers in their campaign.
“I think the cuts to the respite care were the meanest cuts of the lot. It’s not an awful lot of money and it actually saves the state multiples of that. These people work 24-7, 365 days a year and the respite grants give them some of them a chance to get away for a few days but in most cases they use that money to pay other bills,” he said.