Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony wants Minister Finian McGrath to confirm that the additional respite beds that he announced last week will bridge the 17,259 deficit in terms of centre-based respite nights that was reported for 2017.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting as the Public Service Performance Report for 2017 was published.

“Last year, there was just 158,296 respite nights provided to people with disabilities in approved centres. This is a near 10% cut from the 2016 figure of 175,555.

“Minister McGrath needs to commit to ensuring that the additional facilities announced last week by himself and the HSE will allow for not only the total number to be brought back to 2016 levels but to be increased.

“Respite support is crucial to giving people with disabilities and their families a better quality of life.

“All across the country, the families of people with disabilities are desperate for help and support. They need extra overnight respite care.

“There is little to be had, and it’s having a detrimental impact on these families. They are under severe pressure, and these apparent cuts in the level of respite care aren’t helping.

“Having your heart in the right place can only go so far, and Minister McGrath needs to now start delivering. He must confirm that this drop in respite care will be reversed in 2018 and increased to relieve the extreme pressure on people with disabilities and their families,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.