Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South Central, Micheál Martin, has expressed his outrage at the lack of placement opportunities for school leavers with special needs across Cork city and county.

Deputy Martin raised the lack of services and funding for people with disabilities this week in the Dáil and cited an example of a young adult from Cork who has no placement available to her after leaving school.

“It has been a poor 12 months for people with disabilities in Cork,” said Deputy Martin.

“It has been a year of cutbacks, fear, anxiety, worry, frustration and anger. Over 700 people with disabilities have left school this year with no placement. The €20 million in funding that was put in place by the previous Government for these services has been coldly cut.

“The parents of a 19 year old girl from Cork, suffering from severe autism and severe epilepsy who needs a full-time residential placement have been told by the HSE they could not help them, this is a shocking indictment of the Government’s approach to people with disabilities.”

Deputy Martin added that there has also been a ruthless review of the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA). 

“Over 63% of all applications for DCA in the first six months of this year were refused.  Up to half of applications for children with autism were also refused.

“A young man who has severe social impairment, challenging behaviour, speech delay and requires constant supervision has been told by The Department of Social Protection he is not entitled to a domiciliary care allowance. This is just unacceptable.

“I have raised these issues a number of times over the past few months but sadly my calls have fallen on deaf ears. The Government’s response to this crisis has been a disgrace. The Minister for Health has already performed an embarrassing, but welcome, climb down on his targeting of personal assistants for the disabled. This does not take away from the fact that the Government continues to put disproportionate pressure on the most vulnerable section of society.

“The continued attack on the disabled, poor and less well-off reflects a very cynical approach by the Government and I would urge an immediate shift in policy to take give people with disabilities the same opportunities as anyone else.