14 October 2015

Pat Clarke of Down Syndrome Ireland which represents 3500 families of people with Down syndrome said he welcomed many of the benefits announced this afternoon but that the Government missed a vital opportunity to create a decent living standard for people with Down syndrome.


“We welcome the extension of the free childcare year from one year to two for children aged 3 up to 5.5 years of age, or when they go to primary school. We are particularly pleased to see that €15 million will be allocated for children with disabilities to access this scheme.” said Pat Clarke.


“Down Syndrome Ireland has repeatedly called on the Government to increase resource hours and we are hopeful that our calls have been answered through the increase of 600 extra resource teachers and 610 Special Needs Assistants.”


“We welcome the restoration of the respite care grant for carers to the previous level of €1,700 - finally the Government has given back what was taken from the very people who needed it most".


“However, there was a missed opportunity for the Government to decouple the disability allowance from unemployment assistance and benefits to provide some real benefits for people with disabilities and people with Down syndrome who were hardest hit through austerity in recent years.”


“Ministers Noonan and Howlin spoke of ensuring prosperity in every home in the country and a fair and equal society but for those with disabilities and Down syndrome we feel more could have been done to achieve this.”