Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said “the suggestion that the HSE would cut funding from charities such as COPE, the Irish Wheelchair Association, Enable Ireland and the Rehab Group is deeply cynical.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting following reports on an internal audit for the HSE South on the accounts of voluntary and charity groups.

“Over 3,100 voluntary groups across the country are in need of €1.7bn in vital funding from the State.  If the HSE or the Department of Health think that they have an opportunity to exploit people’s good will to these charities in order to save money on grants, they are deeply mistaken.  The HSE are obliged to provide services to people with disabilities and I would strongly advise the HSE not to go down this route.

“It was only last month we learned through media reports that the HSE was sending letters to the St. Vincent de Paul seeking funding support for services for vulnerable people.  This is totally unacceptable.  I know that we are living in difficult times and difficult decisions are required but services from the State for people with disabilities and the most vulnerable should not be jeopardised.  Nor should a charity’s own ability to raise additional funds to provide additional services be held against them.  I am calling on Minister Reilly to give assurances that funding for such charity and voluntary groups will not be raided and that common sense will prevail on this issue.”