Home helps take their protest to the streets

More than 2000 people took to the streets in Cork last Saturday November 3rd to protest against home help cutbacks. Marchers carrying a symbolic coffin with words ‘Home Help Service RIP’ led a defiant crowd who had travelled from across Munster to mark the launch of SIPTU’s Time To Care campaign. The new national campaign is aimed at organising Home Helps to defend the vital services they provide from budget cutbacks and ongoing privatisation. Pipers and drummers kept spirits high on a bright and sunny afternoon and the protestors received a rousing welcome from the shoppers and taxi drivers in Cork city centre as they marched from Connolly Hall to Grand Parade.

Participants in the SIPTU organised rally called on Minister for Health Dr James Reilly and the Health Service Executive to end their short sighted policy of slashing home help services.

SIPTU organiser, Ted Kenny, said: “500,000 home help hours have already been removed in 2012 and now the HSE is seeking to slash a further 600,000 hours before the end of this year.

“It would seem that the most vulnerable in our society are being made suffer for the benefit of private for profit health companies who stand to benefit once the HSE has overseen the destruction of our highly efficient home help service.”

Home Helps and their supporters wore red to symbolise the danger in which they said elderly and vulnerable clients would be placed if one million hours were cut from the home help service by the end of this year.

SIPTU represents almost 10,000 home helps across Ireland and sector organiser Darragh O’Connor said the rally was the first in a series of events planned as part of its ‘Time to Care’ campaign ahead of next month’s budget.

Speaking to the crowd on Grand Parade, Catherine Krauss, a Home Help worker from Cork declared “We want dignity and respect restored to the vulnerable clients of the service.  We want an end to the cutting of our work hours  and to the outs-ourcing of home help  services.”