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Confirmation, communion, domiciliary payments

Willie O’Dea (FF, Limerick City) challenged the withdrawal of exceptional needs payments for confirmations (‘religious ceremonies’) (Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2013, 665-6).  The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, told him that such payments had been reviewed by a working group, which found wide variations in payments (foe example, 25 in the north west by 5,600 in the east) and in levels of payment (€189 in the north east, €300 in the east).  It concluded that such payments should cease, giving a saving of €1.5m, the amount spent in 2012, down from €3.25m in 2010.  Willie O’Dea accused her of depriving 14,400 families, many of whom were living in destitution or on the edge of destitution, at a time when Community Welfare Officers were increasingly referring clients to the Society of St Vincent de Paul and other charities.  She was finding savings from among ‘the poorest of the poor’.  The minister: ‘no’. 


Willie O’Dea also challenged her on the Domiciliary Allowance (DA) and the Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) (Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2013, 673-5).  The advisory group on tax and social welfare had published its proposals on them on 10th April, as well as the review group on the DCA scheme, she said.  Their findings were now under consideration.  A wide range of groups had been involved: Carers Association, Down Syndrome Ireland, Irish Autism Action, Special Needs Parents Association, Inclusion Ireland, Midlands Regional Forum of People with Disabilities, DCA Warriors.  The DCA review group included representatives of departments, the National Disability Authority and these organizations.  Administrative improvements would be implemented quickly and work was already under way to put an implementation group in place.  She thanked them for their advice and contribution.  Willie O’Dea criticized the government for its reductions in disability funding and especially the receipt of the allowance at 16: if that proposal was not right last year, why was it right now?


Asked separately by Finian McGrath (ind, Dublin NC) about the 19% cut to the respite care grant, the minister told the Dail that she was not in a position to reverse the reduction.  The supports available to carers were among the highest in Europe and she outlined government spending and the numbers benefitting (Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2013, 812).

> Advisory group and child benefit: Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2013, 813.

> Applications received, awarded and refused for Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pensions, Domiciliary Care Allowance : Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2013, 822, 826;

> Awards for and processing times for appeals in means or health-related payments: Dail Eireann, Debates, 24th April 2013, 822-5.