Fianna Fáil has demanded an explanation from the Government for the unacceptable delays in processing appeals for social welfare payments in the North West.
It follows confirmation from the Department of Social Welfare last week that hundreds of people in Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal and across the country were suddenly stripped of their disability allowance, illness benefit or carers allowance last year and have been waiting for over a year for their appeals to be processed.
Sligo Senator Marc Mac Sharry has called for an urgent explanation from the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.
“It is completely unacceptable that so many people with disabilities or with long-term illness and their carers are left without any state support and no explanation from the Department for months on end.  We need to hear from the Minister as a matter of urgency about what measures are in place to clear the backlog of appeals as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Senator Mac Sharry.
“I have been contacted by many people here in Sligo and across this region who have been left in extreme difficulty as a result of these protracted delays. These are people who are unable to work because of illness or disability or who require state support to get the care that they need.
“While the Minister will not release county-specific figures, we know that 4,169 people nationwide are waiting to on appeals for the Disability Allowance. 2,513 of these have been waiting for more than 4 months and 321 people are waiting for more than a year.  There are also 1,635 people waiting to have their appeals for the Carer’s Allowance processed, with more than 900 of these waiting for over 4 months and 113 people waiting for over a year.
“Fianna Fáil has formally requested that Minister Joan Burton be called before the Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection as a matter of urgency to answer questions about these delays. I believe the Minister should transfer staff to the Appeals Office on a temporary basis to ensure this backlog is cleared before Christmas.”