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Conway-Walsh, Rose

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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12

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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Senator Rose Conway-Walsh

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Snippet Contents:

It is wrong that carers have to come from all over the State to gather outside Leinster House a week after the budget to tell us how they are being neglected. There are men and women there but most of the carers in this State are women and that is one reason they have been left behind. They are absolutely taken for granted. We know that. The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection was out there. It was quite insulting for her say that it should be put to the Citizens' Assembly to find out what the carers' needs are. There needs to be strategic planning and focusing of resources and all of that. We know what carers need. We know we need the income disregard for the carer's allowance. We welcome the fact that the budget extends the time carers are allowed to work by three and a half hours. The caveat is that if they get paid for it, that money will be taken from their carer's allowance. They are one of the groups that have been most neglected by successive Governments. We need reform of the means test for the carer's allowance and to end the postcode lottery for home care and supports. While I welcome the fact that there are additional home help hours, I note the ones announced last year were not implemented this year. That will not reduce the waiting lists as much as they need to be reduced.
There has been no replacement for the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant, which was withdrawn in 2013. Carers do not have a general practitioner, GP, visit card. All of those things need to be addressed and we do not need a Citizens' Assembly or more consultation to do it. We need action for carers. I heard the Minister say we need cross-party agreement. She has the agreement of our party to support what needs to be done for carers. I cannot speak for any other party but I would be very surprised if there was any other party or individual here who did not support the needs of carers and see what needs to be done for them. The Minister should not be kicking the can down the road and fobbing us off. She needs to come in here and answer these questions. There are small things that cost little that could make a huge difference to carers' lives and it is our responsibility to stand up for them.