Donegal Fianna Fáil Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has revealed shocking delays in appeals for key social welfare payments to people in Donegal and across the country.
In reply to a Parliamentary Question from Fianna Fáil, the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has confirmed that hundreds of full-time carers, hundreds of people with disabilities, hundreds of carers and hundreds of people with long-term illness have been waiting for over a year to have their appeals for state support processed.
Senator Ó Domhnaill said, “While we don’t have specific figures for Donegal, we know that these protracted delays are hitting the most vulnerable people right across this county. I have been inundated with calls from people here in Donegal who have suddenly had their State support removed, and have been waiting months to have their appeals heard.
“This is causing enormous hardship to people who are unable to work due to severe illness or disability, and to their Carers,” said Senator Ó Domhnaill.
The longest delays are in appeals for the Disability Allowance, with 4,169 people nationwide waiting to have their appeals heard. 2,513 of these have been waiting for more than 4 months, and 321 people are waiting for more than a year. In addition to this there are 1,635 people waiting to have their appeals for the Carer’s Allowance processed, with more than 900 of these waiting for over 4 months and 113 people waiting for over a year.
Senator Ó Domhnaill continued, “I am shocked by the scale of the delays in the simple processing of social welfare appeals. There is a growing concern that the Government may be deliberately delaying appeals for months on end in a cynical attempt to cut costs. If this is indeed the case, for Fine Gael and Labour to penalise the most vulnerable in this way would amount to the utmost cruelty.
“This situation is particularly worrying coming into the winter period. It is absolutely unacceptable that people in Donegal who are in need of support while they care either full or part-time for an elderly parent, or someone with a severe illness or disability would be waiting months on end to have legitimate claims processed by the Department. This is a blatant attack on our most vulnerable.
“I am calling on Minister Burton to reassign more staff to the Appeals Office in order to clear this backlog as a matter of priority,” said Senator Ó Domhnaill.