Local TD Clare Daly (Ind)

SERVICES at disability centres across north Dublin are set to be severely curtailed according to St Michael’s House, following the Government’s announcement that another €1 million is to be cut this year.

St Michael’s House was informed last month that an additional €1 million would be taken from the organisation’s budget, which has already been cut by 1.36% for 2013.  This new cut brings the total funding slashed from St Michael’s budget to over €12 million since 2008.

St Michael’s House has schools, residential houses and respite centres in a number of locations across north Dublin, including the Malahide Road, Baldoyle, Swords and Skerries.

In a letter sent recently to families of those using St Michael’s services, chief executive officer Patricia Doherty said: “I regret to advise you of a very significant worsening of the financial position for St Michael’s House.”

Doherty assured families that the board of St Michael’s House is making “every effort” to impress upon the HSE and the Government the seriousness of the situation and the “inevitable negative impact” of their decisions on people with disabilities.

The letter outlined changes St Michael’s House would be implementing “as a matter of urgency”. These included reducing staff levels, closure of a residential and respite service, closure of residential services for one day a month and reductions in transport provision, to name a few.

According to local TD Clare Daly (Ind), the latest cutbacks are creating “huge uncertainty” for the service, which currently cares for over 1,700 adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Deputy Daly said the news has been met with anger and bewilderment from service users and staff at St Michael’s House.

“This is the sixth year in a row that national government has chosen to attack the most vulnerable section of society; making these families take on the burden of banker’s debt is reprehensible and immoral. There can be no doubt that they will have to be shamed and forced to do the right thing for the thousands of families affected by these draconian cutbacks.”

Daly believes the knock-on effects of such cuts has huge implications for the health and welfare of the users, their families and the staff whose jobs are under threat.

“Six years of austerity have not solved any of the economic problems in the country. In fact, it has caused great hardship for the most vulnerable people in our communities. Enough is enough.”

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Health, a process is under way between the HSE and St Michael’s House to identify the impact of the budget reductions.

“It is understood a meeting has been arranged between the two organisations to discuss this issue further and to agree a position in relation to the budget reductions and its impact.”