The huge reduction to home help hours throughout the country is having a devastating effect on thousands of families and despite promises from the Government to limit these cuts, the reality on the ground is a lot different.

Today in the Dáil, Party Leader, Micheál Martin TD, gave the Taoiseach specific examples of elderly people in dire need of the home help service, not only being cut but being stopped completely.

“Last Saturday thousands of families took to the streets of Cork to protest at the savage cuts to home help hours,” said Deputy Martin. “I met with many families that have been devastated by these cuts, they see no sense whatsoever in cruelly reducing and ending the home help assistance hours.

“I raised this very issue with the Taoiseach a number of weeks ago and I was assured that those who have been medically assessed would not be cut. This is blatantly not true, I have come across numerous cases of elderly people with a variety of different ailments that have had their assistance hours slashed. I have a letter from a GP that said that it was inhumane to deny disabled people to right to live at home with dignity.

“I saw the anguish of people last Saturday and these families are finding it impossible to understand how the cuts can be justified.  If these cuts are not immediately reversed, thousands of people could be forced into the acute hospital system or long stay care thus placing a major burden on our already overcrowded health system. These cuts just make no financial or practical sense.

“Groups like Age Action Ireland and Older and Bolder have said that these cuts are colossal, potentially dangerous and in many cases, they have been done without notice.

“People are being stripped of their independence, dignity and their right to independent living. These cuts cannot be justified and I am again calling on the Government to reverse this decision.”