Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Community Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has slammed the proposal to transfer responsibility for the Senior’s Alert Scheme from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to Pobal. 

The scheme provides grant assistance to elderly people so they can purchase and install items such as monitored alarms and pendants.

He commented: “This transfer will only add another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the administration of this scheme. Furthermore, one of the great flexibilities of the scheme has now been eliminated. There will now be one national tender for the supply and installation of personal monitor alarms, rather than allowing each separate group make their own purchasing arrangements. The present system allows each separate community group to purchase the equipment most suited to the needs of the target population. This new national purchasing system will stifle competition from within the market, as only the biggest players will be able to tender and make profit from the scheme.

“The whole area of mobile technology and security is changing rapidly and it is absolutely vital that local providers of these services, on behalf of the State, would have the freedom to access the most modern technology on the market. Elderly people in rural areas face different challenges to urban ones and the scheme has reflected these different needs.

“At present the scheme is administered in most cases by voluntary community groups who give up their time freely in order to ensure that the most vulnerable people in their communities benefit from the schemes. Over centralisation and over standardisation is creating major challenges for people involved in the voluntary sector. 
“It is the wrong move to transfer responsibility for these schemes to Pobal, it will adversely affect the service provided to elderly people and I would urge the new Minister for Environment, Alan Kelly to reverse this decision.”