herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Why am I left to suffer Leo?', asks Gran stabbed 22 times in horror attack

Dublin grandmother and attack victim Rose Kenny has appealed to Leo Varadkar for help Photo: Damien Eagers
Dublin grandmother and attack victim Rose Kenny has appealed to Leo Varadkar for help Photo: Damien Eagers
Denis Leahy

A grandmother stabbed and left to die outside her flat has appealed to Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar for help because she cannot get the winter fuel allowance while on illness benefit as a result of her injuries.

Rose Kenny (51) was attacked by her former partner, Denis Leahy, as she left the School Street Flats near Thomas Street in Dublin on September 23, 2014.

She was stabbed 22 times and received injuries to her throat and neck that left her fighting for her life.

She spent seven weeks in St James's Hospital and said she would have died but for the actions of quick-thinking neighbours who kept her alive until the ambulance arrived.

Whisper

Rose can now only speak in a hoarse whisper and, as a result of the attack, had to give up her job in a city family resource centre, where she used to care for children.

"I used to qualify for the fuel allowance when I was doing a bit of work, but now that I'm on the illness allowance, which is the same €188, I've been told I don't qualify," Rose told the Herald from her south city flat.

"I just can't understand how the system works. I was told by one person that if I went on Jobseeker's Allowance I would qualify for it, but I can't work because I can't talk. I feel I would be lying if I went on Jobseeker's Allowance.

"I'm appealing to Leo Varadkar to sort this out, not just for me but for others in my situation," she added.

"There is an anomaly somewhere. What happens if a person is on Jobseeker's Allowance and they fall in the snow and break a leg and then have to go on illness benefit?

"Do they get their fuel allowance taken off them while they are sick?" Rose asked.

A fuel allowance is a payment under the National Fuel Scheme to help with the cost of heating homes during the winter.

It is paid to people who are dependent on long-term social welfare payments and who are unable to provide for their own heating needs.

The 2016-2017 fuel allowance season started on October 3 and ends on March 31.

Fuel allowance is paid along with the social welfare payment and amounts to €22.50 per week, or a total of €585 for the winter.

Rose said she is applying for an invalidity pension, which a person can qualify for because of a long-term illness or disability, but fears it could take months for that to be processed and is worried her suffering will never end.

"I loved my job in the family resource centre, but when you are looking after children you often have to talk loudly and you are answering the intercom to the parents of 50 children coming to collect them in the afternoon.

"I did go back for a while after I was physically recovered but it got to the stage that at the end of the day I'd be fighting for my breath.

"I had to fight for every word I speak. I just couldn't do it anymore," she said.

Apart from the horrendous physical injuries Rose suffered - including deep wounds to her neck, chest, abdomen and shoulder - she also lives with the psychological damage from which she fears she will never recover.

"I hate going outside. I'm always looking for danger. I have to psych myself up to leave the flat and when I'm out all I want to do is get home as quick as I can," she said.

Safe

"I feel safe at home. When I'm out I'm always aware of people around me, especially if I'm wheeling my little grandson in the buggy.

"I find myself taking side streets instead of main streets if I feel there is too much danger around. Because of that I spend a lot of time at home, and I can't be in a cold flat.

"My home heats up quickly enough but when I turn the heat off it just disappears and I have to turn it on again."

Rose's attacker, Leahy (50), was handed a 14-year jail sentence in July after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

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