Local TD, Bobby Aylward
SOS Kilkenny has endured a financial deficit of €100,000 for some time, according to a local TD who has called on the Government to offer more support to such agencies.
Speaking in a Dáil debate recently on section 39 agency staff reimbursements, Fianna Fáil's Bobby Aylward said these agencies are largely being ignored.
Section 39 agencies are funded by the public health service, but which operate independently of the HSE.
He said: “We know there were significant cutbacks across all public services as a result of the economic downturn. As the economy has improved in recent years, many sections of our public services have seen restoration of pay and conditions.
“However, our section 39 agencies are being largely ignored and as a result they are now facing serious dilemmas on the ground. In my county, Kilkenny, I receive regular contact from section 39 agencies on this matter.
“One such agency, SOS Kilkenny, which I welcome to the Public Gallery, provides a vital life service to people in need of service for disabilities and of palliative care and greatly enhances the quality of life through opportunities of social inclusion for their service users.
“This is very important work. It has endured an annual financial deficit of €100,000 for some time and has begged and borrowed to hang on to its very talented and passionate staff and keep the show on the road.
“That has been happening for four or five years. This position is simply not sustainable and such problems are being echoed all across the section 39 sector. We must enable section 39 agencies to be able to pay and look after their staff.
“These workers are very well trained and have a genuine vocation for the important work they do and we must keep them and pay them what they are worth. We cannot afford to lose them because they cannot afford to live on what they are being paid. It is an unthinkable situation in 2018.”
He added: “We must also remember the service users all across the country whose lives are greatly improved as a result of the crucial work done by our section 39 agencies and workers.
“They are the ones who will ultimately suffer a downgrade or interruption in services and a lowering of general standards if we cannot hang on to the great staff we have in this sector."