Young people with disabilities in Dundalk who attend training and education courses at the National Learning Network will not get the €500 disability support that was due to be paid on Monday, it has been revealed.
The situation was revealed in Leinster House last Thursday by Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú who said he had been informed that morning by students at the centre at the Ramparts that they would not be getting the one-off financial support their peers will receive.
The Sinn Féin TD raised the matter in the Dáil with Tanáiste Leo Varadkar during Questions on Promised Legislation.
Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘Many National Learning Network students have received letters stating they will not get the €500 disability support due to be paid on Monday, 14 November, which is being given to people in receipt of disability allowance, invalidity pension, blind pension and carer’s grant.
‘When a National Learning Network student enters training, their disability allowance changes to a training allowance for the duration of the course and on that basis some will not receive the grant.
‘This is unjust. Many will have made plans in relation to this. The disability support grant is paid to recognise the huge costs for those with disability and their families. We need to rectify this straightaway’.
In response, Minister Varadkar said: ‘I thank the Deputy. I will ask my people to look into that. I do not want to make any promises here, but it may be an anomaly.
‘We will look into that and see if a change is warranted’.
Following the interaction with Minister Varadkar in the Dáil, Deputy Ó Murchú wrote to the Tanáiste and to Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, telling them it ‘could not be the intention of the legislation to deny young people with disabilities this one-off payment that their peers are receiving’.
He asked the ministers to ensure the payment was given to those on the courses who qualify for disability payments.
He said: ‘The students at the National Learning Network in Dundalk and around the state were rightly shocked and disgusted by this letter, which they received on Thursday.
‘It is wrong and unjust. Hopefully it is an anomaly, and it will be sorted in the coming days’.