Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called on the Environment Minister to give assurances that essential funding for disability organisations will be retained next year. A Government U-turn earlier this year saw funding for the Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector (SSNO) restored for 12 months, but Minister Kelly has given no guarantee that the money will be permanently re-instated.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “Minister Kelly was forced to row back on this callous cut, which would’ve seen funding for 26 disability organisations axed completely, and while the funding has been restored this year, I have grave concerns that these groups will be facing the same fate next July. The Minister needs to give a commitment that this funding will be ring fenced and protected into the future. It is unfair to subject disability groups to this uncertainty on an annual basis.
“Minister Kelly indicated that he’d be commissioning a review of the funding structure to health and disability organisations which were rejected for funding under the SSNO scheme. However, more than three months after this announcement, none of the charities affected by the initial cut have been contacted by either the Department of the Environment or the Department of Health about this review process.
“This continued uncertainty is completely unacceptable; it leaves charities unable to plan for the year ahead, and it means that patients with neurological conditions will continue to worry about the future of their services.
“Has the Government learned nothing from the medical card fiasco? It seems as if it is targeting the most vulnerable once again, leaving them in limbo when it comes to the future of their care. Minister Kelly must outline what stage this review process is at, and must give a guarantee that funding for these disability groups will not be targeted next year”.