Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony TD has welcomed the additional expenditure announced for children’s disabilities services but said that the need has never been greater.

“Yesterday’s budget pledge is welcome, and it is one that Fianna Fáil fought hard for in the Budget negotiations. Parents of children with disabilities have been demanding change for a number of years.

“Information on how this additional funding will be used to reduce waiting lists for Assessments of Need is needed. Will it be through the recruitment of additional therapists for employment in the public health service or will funding be used to allow parents secure assessments in the private sector, either throw the NTPF or individually?

“Recent figures released to me showed that the number of overdue assessments of need under the Disability Act has now increased to 4,042. At all times, we must realise that behind these waiting numbers are real children suffering.

“Without an Assessment of Needs, children with disabilities cannot access basic services such as speech and language therapy, or obtain SNA support while in school

“This is an issue that I have been raising consistently – in fact earlier this year I initiated a meeting at the Oireachtas Health Committee to discuss the Assessment of Need process. Yet, up to now, the Government response has been completely inadequate and has failed to give parents any confidence.

“Close to 1,600 of the overdue assessments are in Cork and it is critical that as the county has suffered disproportionately from the delays, it should see a significant ratio of the proposed new recruitment.

“We need to hear from the Minister and the HSE how they will recruit anynew therapists, where they will come from, and when they will get to work. That’s what parents want to know,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.