Over the past year, I have raised with the Taoiseach the plight of section 39 organisations, particularly hospices, and the fact that they did not get a fair deal from the Government in the restoration of pay under the turnaround of the financial emergency measures in the public interest legislation. While the Government's position has shifted, overall it has been mean-spirited and lacked any moral compass.
In addition to hospices, the Taoiseach knows that many organisations are labelled "section 39" but, in essence, do the State's work in catering for people with disabilities and children with special needs. We know that thousands of people across the country depend on such organisations for residential services, respite services, day care and support services, personal assistance, home care assistance and access to therapies. For many of these people, even those services, for example, respite and access to therapies, are not fully adequate or sufficient.
I am referring to organisations like Enable Ireland, Rehab, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and the Irish Wheelchair Association at national level and, regionally, Ability West, the Western Care Association, the Kerry Parents and Friends Association and the St. Joseph's Foundation in Charleville, which covers Limerick and Cork. There simply would be no services for people with disabilities without those organisations.
In research commissioned recently on behalf of these organisations under the title, Who Cares? Building a new relationship between the not-for-profit sector and the State 2018, the reality is brought home in terms of the financial crisis that such organisations are in - they are no longer sustainable financially - and the Government's lack of honesty in meeting the actual cost of services that are being delivered on the ground by the agencies. This is important research and, in essence, it captures the crisis and the lack of honesty in the relationship between the Government and these agencies.
The Government has compounded the crisis and made it far worse in respect of the restoration of pay for the workers in these organisations. They are not getting a full restoration of pay. There is a significant differential at the end of each month between such workers and workers in the general health service.
Why are those agencies and workers who look after people with disabilities and very sick people penalised so blatantly by Government through its pay policy? Why are they discriminated against so much? It suggests a morally bankrupt position for Government to adopt. It places these agencies in financial peril and will result in the cutting of services.