Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that it is no longer sustainable for Section 39 providers to be expected to bail out the State for its inability to provide services when the Government refuses to increase supports and funding despite their boasts of huge budget surpluses.

Speaking during a Sinn Féin-led debate on funding for disability supports in the Dáil last night, Teachta Crowe said:

“We were told that budget 2024 was going to solve all our problems but what we got was a giveaway budget that failed to address the very serious issues we have in our public services, health being chief among them. While the HSE recruitment freeze has rightly dominated media coverage in recent days, there is another sector of the health service that is on its knees.

“There is no sustainable funding model for section 39 organisations, which provide essential core services for people with disabilities. The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said in June that these organisations ‘are essential in providing services, including to people with disabilities and older people in the community’.

“The HSE has been more than happy to outsource large areas to section 39 organisations, including areas such as care for the elderly, disability services, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and social inclusion services. The list goes on. Where is the support and the funding for the work they do? Section 39 providers are expected to bail out the State for its inability to provide services.

“I am dealing with the case of a young woman who wants to move to the nirvana of independent living. The problem is, she cannot get accommodation. While she has been told for the past two years that there is funding available for her, she cannot get it. It is a pipe dream for a lot of kids who are in this situation. We were told that 315 additional residential places were identified by the HSE in 2022 and 43 were provided. Regarding the rest, we were told that no space was available. That is less than 14% of what was needed. This young girl would take the space if it was available. The funding is supposed to be there, but there is no space available.

“A disability group WALK in Walkinstown has stated it has seven spaces available, but the Department is not providing it with funding. I ask the Minister to examine that case because those seven spaces could accommodate seven children. We need to think outside the box and start delivering units for these young children through the development plans of local authorities.”