Crippling grant cuts hit elderly and disabled

Mary Ellen Gray. Photo: Michelle Ghee. www.gphotos.ie
A major cut in house adaptation grants for the elderly and disabled in Longford could leave grant applicants waiting months for approval.

A major cut in house adaptation grants for the elderly and disabled in Longford could leave grant applicants waiting months for approval.

Details of the Government’s near 50 per cent cut generated a torrent of cynicism from local representatives at this week’s monthly meeting of Longford County Council.

Normally allocated to provide valuable additions such as hand rails, walk-in showers and non-slip flooring to those who need it, the likelihood of some projects having to wait or be postponed appears increasingly likely.

The meeting heard that just €27,000 had been added to this year’s allocation for the remaining five months of the year , bringing the total allocation for home adaptation grants to €715,000, as opposed to e1.2 million last year.

That leaves council chiefs facing a €500,000 shortfall.

It also emerged that this €27,000 ‘top-up’ has already been set aside for existing grant applications.

“€27,000 is an insult,” said a visibly upset Cllr Luie McEntire.

“What is that (€27,000) going to do?”

It’s scandalous and it’s something we just shouldn’t accept.”

His Fianna Fail colleague, Cllr Martin Mulleady underlined the depth of anger inside the chamber, describing the five figure sum handed down as nothing more than “a joke”.

Such was the animated response to the cuts, the Fianna Fail politician became embroiled in a heated exchange with Fine Gael’s John Duffy.

The Dromard native said news of the nationally imposed cuts had been well flagged up three months ago, a statement which frustrated Cllr Mulleady.

“Any person who knew about these cuts three months ago should have raised it in here (chamber),” he said, prompting Cllr Duffy to snap: “Don’t be putting words in my mouth , Martin.”

They were not the only pair to clash.

Cllrs Peggy Nolan and Mae Sexton put forward differing views on the reductions.

“If there is no money in the pot you cannot put it in just to be popular,” said Cllr Nolan.

Cllr Sexton disagreed, slamming the cutbacks as “mean-minded” and something that would hit the most vulnerable sections of society.