Disability staff face redundancy as funding is cut

2nd December 2012

Five staff members at People With Disabilities Ireland (PWDI) have been put on notice after justice minister Alan Shatter said his department would no longer fund the agency. The organisation, which is run by people with disabilities, their families and carers, provides a range of services to people throughout the country.

The news has come as a blow to people with disabilities, for whom the organisation provided a vital advocacy role.

The organisation says that the move will have a detrimental effect on the lives of thousands of people with disabilities, and that the Minister’s decision shows a complete disregard for the voluntary work of hundreds of members. It says the decision will set back the disability agenda by 15 years.

Defending the decision, Minister of State for Disability Kathleen Lynch rejected the claims and said most of the funding was spent on administration and the running of the PWDI head office.

IMPACT official Gerry Dolan responded by saying that administration costs could be discussed if they were the issue. “Elsewhere across the public service we have been able to make huge cost reductions. If administration costs are the issue it makes far more sense to discuss these in the context of how other agencies have reduced their spending, rather than simply cut off an organisation and force its staff into redundancy,” he said.

Gerry expressed concern that the minister had not been made aware of the effect on staff. “While the chief executive can look forward to a return to the civil service fold, his correspondence to the minister gives no indication of what his staff are now facing.”

It is understood that the minister of state has since been briefed, and IMPACT is seeking a meeting with her at the earliest possible opportunity. “It is in the interests of everyone with disabilities in Ireland that their voice remains heard, and to ensure that these workers, who have shown determination and commitment in their work with PWDI, are not sacrificed in an arbitrary cost cutting exercise,” said Gerry.