[Sinn Fein]

8th April 2003

Ó Caoláin pledges support for Protest Rally over funding for Disability Services

Sinn Fein Dáil leader and health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has pledged his party's support to the organisations representing people with disabilities who have called tonight's (Tuesday) Rally in the Mansion House in protest at Government cuts.

Deputy Ó Caoláin called for a special Dáil debate on the issue and said:

``It is disgraceful that yet again a host of people from throughout the country have had to organise a protest rally in Dublin as a result of this Government's cutbacks in services for people with disabilities. It was predicted at the time of the Budget that the spending shortfall in 2003 would mean that existing services, as well as promised new and badly needed developments, would be hit by these cuts. This has now come to pass and people are reporting to us that they are unable to maintain the current level of service. These cuts are causing real hardship.

``I am calling on this Government to urgently allocate the necessary extra resources, to immediately address the scandal of the continuing detention of people with intellectual disabilities in psychiatric hospitals, and to bring forward rights-based disability legislation.''

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