Charities demand funding be restored for social services
Six national charity networks involving more than 1,500 worthy causes have called on the Government to restore funding for public services.
The networks issued a joint statement warning that funding for many community and voluntary organisations has been cut by up to 10pc in each of the past seven Budgets.
This has resulted in a lack of essential support services for older people, children, people with disabilities, carers and rural communities.
The organisations voicing concern are The Wheel, the Disability Federation of Ireland, Care Alliance Ireland, Irish Rural Link, Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups and the National Youth Council of Ireland.
A survey conducted by The Wheel found 59pc of charities had experienced a fall in their income over the past year, while more than two-thirds reported that demand for their services increased in the same period.
More than a third of charities had to cut back or suspend services as a result.
"There is currently no plan to protect public services," said Ivan Cooper, director of advocacy at The Wheel.
"Recent Budgets have focused on achieving sustainability in our public finances, but we must acknowledge that this has come at an enormous cost for those who rely on public services.
"The protection and restoration of public services should now take precedence over tax cuts."
John Dolan, the chief executive officer of the Disability Federation of Ireland, said that the "chipping away" at both disability-specific and mainstream supports in past Budgets has drastically impacted on the independence and quality of life of people living with disabilities.
Meanwhile, Cork GAA star and health campaigner Conor Cusack has pleaded with the Government to increase spending on mental health given spiralling rates of suicide, depression and attacks on nurses in the psychiatric services.
The sector is "the Cinderella" of the Irish health service, he said.