Northside students launch petition to save course payment

Northside students launch petition to save course payment
Bevan Murphy, Kane Buckley, Megan Collins and Ciara Horgan are all students on the Directions Program at the National Learning Network at Hollyhill and want the HSE to reverse cuts to allowances.

STUDENTS with disabilities in Hollyhill are fighting back against what has been described as “savage” Government cuts to payments for training programmes.

A petition has been launched by students attending the National Learning Network at the Hollymount Industrial Estate seeking a U-turn in cuts to the rehabilitative training allowance from the HSE.

The programme's courses are aimed at helping adult students with issues such as Autism and mild learning disabilities develop vital skills and independence.

The students are paid an additional €31.80, known as a training bonus, on top of statutory disability allowance to allow them to avail of courses and is used to cover training travel costs, lunches and social and community activities. It has been proposed by the HSE that this additional payment is discontinued.

The cut takes effect from September and will apply to new entrants to courses only. Those currently attending courses will be unaffected.

The HSE has said the cuts are being implemented to achieve “equity” to all those attending adult day services.

Local councillor Thomas Gould stated he is appalled by the ending of the training bonus and said Health Minister Simon Harris should reverse the decision.

“These people are some of the most vulnerable in society and this is an absolutely savage cut,” said Mr Gould.

“€31 a week might not be a lot to some people but it can make a huge difference to some people who rely on every Euro that is coming in.

“There is just no justification for it,” Mr Gould added.

The students at Hollyhill have already taken to the streets of Cork to garner support for their petition and have launched an online version also.

In a joint statement addressed to the Minister, the students said Mr Harris should resign if he doesn’t rethink the cut.

“We are very disappointed in the decision you are making and if you do not reconsider your ill-formed plan we demand your resignation from government as you clearly do not represent people with disabilities who live in Ireland."

The petition can be signed at www.change.org/p/save-the-training-bonus-minister-simon-harris

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