[Sinn Fein]

18th January 2002

Call for Minister to Intervene in Carers Dispute

Cork Sinn Fein Councillor Jonathan O Brien today called on the Minister of Health, Michael Martin, to intervene in the Care Staff dispute which if it goes ahead will have tragic consequences for people with an intellectual disability and their parents. Service users of both the Brothers of Charity and COPE will both be affected by this dispute.

Jonathan O Brien said: ``The seeds of this dispute have been sown by the government themselves in appearing to discriminate between different types of care staff, those who look after people with sensory disabilities and those who have intellectual disabilities.   

It is imperative that the Minister for Health intervenes urgently to bring about a resolution to this dispute. If it proceeds some of the most vulnerable people in our society will be removed from their homes and returned to their parents with all the distress that will entail. The reason they are in accommodation in the first place is that their parents are not in a position to look after them. This will have damaging consequences on both the individuals concerned and their families.

There are also long term implications arising from this dispute. Presently agencies are finding it difficult to recruit enough care staff to provide a good service. Any reduction in the comparative earning power of care staff will inevitably mean a leakage from the intellectual disability sector to other sectors.

This dispute needs to be brought to a speedy resolution in a manner which causes no harm to the service users and their parents, and which ensures that the services can develop their care programmes in the future. Intellectual disability services cannot e treated as second class services. The ball lies firmly in the Minister's court.''

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