I hosted a Pre-Budget forum in Dublin Castle on Friday, 5 July last. It was attended by 37 voluntary and community groups, including Active Retirement Ireland, Age Action Ireland, Alone, Barnardos, Care Alliance Ireland, Carers Association, Centre for Independent Living, Children’s Rights Alliance, Congress Centres Network, CROSSCARE, Cúram, Disability Federation of Ireland, End Child Poverty Coalition, European Anti Poverty Network, FLAC, Focus Ireland, Healthy Food for All, Inclusion Ireland, Irish Council for Social Housing, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, Irish Senior Citizens Parliament, National Association of Widows in Ireland, National Federation of Pensioners' Associations, National Women's Council of Ireland, One Family, OPEN, Pavee Point, Retired Workers Committee, Saint Vincent de Paul, Simon Community, Social Justice Ireland, The Wheel, Threshold, TREOIR, Trustus We Care, Unmarried and Separated Families of Ireland and the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice.
The purpose of the annual Forum is to provide a very wide range of welfare representative and advocacy organisations with an opportunity to have an input into the Budget process. The Forum enables the organisations to discuss their views on the Budget with the Minister and senior Departmental officials. This year’s Forum included a number of workshops on specific themes, such as children and families, illness and disability, and poverty and social inclusion. I also met with twenty of the organisations mentioned above at separate meetings, including joint meetings with a number of groups, over the period from April to date. Representative groups may, at any stage, contact my office if they wish to meet with me to discuss the forthcoming Budget and all such requests will be considered.