Cancer Carers application denial a new low says Crowe

Dublin South West Sinn Féin TD, Seán Crowe has described the Department of Social Welfare’s response to a constituent’s application for Carers Allowance as “lacking any credibility and feeling.”

Deputy Crowe said that Patrick Mulligan, his constituent from Tallaght, made an application for a Carers Allowance and was told in a reply that he didn’t fit the criteria.

The reply stated that Patricia, the woman for whom he is giving the fulltime care, did not “require fulltime care and attention as currently laid down in the Carers Allowance legislation.”

Patricia is a seriously ill woman who is currently a patient and receiving palliative care from Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross and is visited at her home in Tallaght by their specialist nurses.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“I am decades working with various State and Government Departments, and Ministers, on behalf of my constituents.

“I should not be surprised by their replies, but I was shocked and enraged after reading the official correspondence and stock reply from the Department of Social Protection received by Patrick Mulligan.

“To suggest, as the letter did, that Patricia was not ill enough to require full time care is quite frankly insulting, ignores the facts, and lacked any scintilla of credibility.

“Patricia has cancer and is receiving palliative assistance from Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross.

“This decision is downright wrong and it confirms that the current system of Social Protection is broken and not fit for purpose.”

Following the rejection of the application by the Department of Social Protection, Deputy Crowe felt Mr Mulligan had good grounds to appeal the decision.

From his own experience of dealing with cases like this in the past, Deputy Crowe was very confident the decision would be reversed, surely there must have been some mistake in the original application.

What happened next shone a light on how the system is failing the most vulnerable in society. He said:

“On reading the Department’s correspondence I asked Patrick to appeal the decision.

“I told him I would go directly to the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Vardakar, to draw his attention to this awful decision thinking that there might be some mistake in the original Carers application.

“I personally spoke to the Minister about the case and followed it up by handing in a letter to his office outlining my immediate concerns, particularly around Patricia’s health and her obvious need for fulltime care.

“Patricia has breast cancer which has spread to her lymph nodes and now down in to her spine. She has been fighting cancer for over 10 years and I can only imagine the difficulties that she has had to confront throughout her illness.

“The last thing she needs at the moment is additional worries about her fulltime care needs.

“Patrick is a close friend of Patricia’s and financially I don’t know how he is still able to keep going.

“Patrick appealed the original decision to deny him a Carers Allowance.

“I had asked the Minister, given the terminal nature of the illness, if the appeal could be fast tracked.

“That has happened and he has now got the Carers Allowance.

“This case is another example of the problems facing all those poor unfortunates who are caught up in a system that clearly isn’t responding in a timely manner to vulnerable citizen’s needs. People have to rely on a TDs representation to get their entitlements.

“The current system is clearly indifferent to the plight of some of our most vulnerable citizens. It’s a system and an approach that has to change.

“I believe, based on cases like this and many others, that we only see genuine change when those in power share a genuine desire to bring about a more just and inclusive society.”