MINISTER of State Jan O’Sullivan has said the HSE was wrong to make cuts to home help hours.
It comes as 35 home help staff from across the county set up a committee in protest at the cuts, which have seen many elderly and vulnerable people see a cut in their home help hours.
One of these, Templeglantine mother-of-seven Catherine Brosnan, whose eldest son Christopher suffers from cerebral palsy, has seen her cause raised with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.
Catherine was told by the health service last month that the home help service for her son was being cut from two hours a day to just one hour due to government cuts.
Normally, she gets her son Christopher ready, while the carer helps get Catherine’s six other children ready.
After the Limerick Leader told Catherine’s story two weeks ago, it garnered national headlines, including a spot on RTE’s Today programme.
Minister O’Sullivan said: “I don’t think the cut was right to be honest, and I, along with colleagues, have been trying to look at ways which it can be addressed. It is an issue which we are all very concerned about. There are very vulnerable people out there, and I am doing everything I can to ensure that home help hours are there for people who need them, and anyone who has been cut who should not have been cut, that their problems are addressed.”
But Miriam Hamilton, SIPTU, says any politician expressing sympathy at the home help’s plight, must back up their words with actions.
In particular, she has urged government politicians to “go beyond party ideology and think with your hearts”.
“Many politicians have come out to say home helps are incredibly important. But what we are saying to our politicians is they have to stop them coming out with positive sentiments, and turn them into actions,” she added.
The opposition committee in Limerick is one of the largest in the country. She said: “I think it just shows the depth of feeling in the country that people are willing to give up time after a days’ work to come to meetings in big numbers. We need as many people as possible to get the message out there that these cuts are wrong, and to make sure people have to look the home helps in the eye when they are trying to justify the cuts or the reasons why home helps are being attacked. It is about putting a human face on this reality.”
With the Labour party meeting this Wednesday on the controversial matter, Frank McDonald, chairperson of SIPTU in Limerick, has written to Mr Gilmore, calling for him to reverse the cut in home help hours.
“It is the clear view of our members that this issue is not about correcting the process of how these cuts are implemented, but rather one of recognising that these cuts are simply wrong and cannot be justified,” he wrote in the letter.