Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability Colm Keaveney TD has hit out at the failure of the Government to ensure an increase the number of Personal Assistance Hours for people with a disability in the 2016 HSE Service Plan.

Deputy Keaveney explained, “It is almost impossible to overstate how crucial Personal Assistance is in the lives of people with disabilities. The PA service provides a critical support, empowering people with disabilities to live more fulfilling lives and to enjoy more rewarding careers. However many of those who need the service only get four hours of assistance a week and have to squeeze any activity outside the home – shopping, medical appointments, and socialising – into those four hours.

“It is clearly a service that needs expanding and from my consultations with many groups that campaign for people with disabilities, it is a number one priority. It is deeply disappointing that no additional service will be provided in 2016.

“I am gravely concerned that the service may well be reduced this year. The HSE Service Plan has a target of 1.3 million hours for 2106 compared to the projected outturn of 1.4 million in 2015. So a reduction of 100,000 hours this year is clearly on the cards. This is truly shocking and goes against a claim that Enda Kenny made in 2011 that disability was a social justice priority for him.

“This country has a duty to support people with disabilities so that they can enjoy equal and independent lives just as other citizens do. They must be a priority over the next five years and it is crucial that people with disabilities are not the victims of Fine Gael’s slash and burn tax plans.

“Fianna Fáil is committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities and increasing the Personal Assistance service will be a major objective for us. If we are a position to do so, we will ensure that the 2017 HSE Service Plan targets an increase of 150,000 hours of service.”