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New bill aims to dramatically improve the lives of carers

Brian Stanley on Covid-19
Brian Stanley

A Laois TD Is calling for his constituency colleagues to back a Sinn Fein bill which sets out four ways to improve the lives of carers.

The latest figures show there are around 6,500 carers in Laois and they carry out a range of different tasks.

The duties of a carer can include: Practical tasks such as, tidying the house, doing washing, ironing, paying the bills, cooking meals, shopping. Personal care including, dressing, washing, lifting, giving medication or collecting prescriptions, attending doctors’ appointments.

A full time carer under the age of 66 receives a maximum weekly fee of €219 while those over that age receive €257.

In order to improve the lives of the people who contribute so much to our society, Sinn Fein have pit forward a motion with four steps.

Deputy Stanley said: “Sinn Féin’s motion stands up for carers and delivers the change they’re demanding through four key steps. Firstly, it commits the government to prioritising family carers in the Covid-19 vaccine roll out.

“Secondly, it gives family carers the financial support they need. This includes increasing eligibility criteria and payments of the Carer’s Allowance, extending Carer’s Benefit to the self-employed, helping family carers struggling with energy bills and guaranteeing other key financial supports that families need.

“Thirdly, it gives respite for family carers who are exhausted and need a break. It will ensure the resumption of Day Services which provide crucial support and relief for families, build up respite capacity including for overnights and create an Emergency Talk Therapy Fund.

“Finally, it demands an immediate end to compiling and storing secret dossiers on children and their families using information gained by professionals and shared without parents’ consent. This appalling breach of trust was shameful and should never have happened.

“I am calling on all TDs from all parties and independents to back Sinn Féin’s motion and give family carers a break.

“Carers don’t need any more sympathy or kind words from politicians, they need us to act, stop taking them for granted and ensure they get the support they need. It’s time to stand up for family carers now.”

Deputy Stanley says that the plight of carers in Ireland has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “Carers have been abandoned by this Government for too long. It’s time to stand up for them and ensure they get the change they need.

“There are 500,000 family carers across Ireland who work unpaid hours to care for and support their loved ones. Current financial support is nowhere near enough.

“The Government has failed to listen to family carers and support them for years, but this has become even worse with the pandemic.

“Families have been left abandoned as important support services for their loved ones have shut. Many have had to effectively stay instead for the last year as they try to protect high-risk relatives from Covid-19. This has placed huge pressure on families and added to their stress.

“Last week, the scandal of the state compiling secret dossiers on children with autism and their families to use against them, highlighted for many family carers how the Government is completely out of touch and takes them for granted. This attitude cannot continue.

“I have spoken to many family carers who have shared their stories with me. They are exhausted and fed up of this Government sympathising with them but then continuing to take them for granted doing nothing to help them.

“Carers need more than just sympathy and nice words from politicians, they need action and they need it now.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.