HOLLYHILL students will take part in a protest at Leinster House today with cuts to crucial disability training allowances set to be introduced.
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 only.
The allowance is currently available to 2,300 young people nationally who have a disability, who are leaving school and going on to do courses.
Councillor Thomas Gould described the cut to allowances as "savage".
"I have listened to the students explaining how that money helps them with their education, travel and social activities that they wouldn’t be able to afford without it. What type of government targets students with disabilities and what kind of party would support a government who would do this?"
Kathleen O’Meara of the Rehab group said the cuts will take away vital “basic sustenance” payments.
“The allowance for those on Rehabilitative Training is a vital financial support. This small allowance facilitates young students to pay for travel and basic sustenance to attend training courses that can be far from their homes, particularly in rural Ireland. This move is an attack on society’s most vulnerable people who are reliant on this small allowance to be able to access training and employment. Our centres were informed yesterday in writing of this move, and for many, the axing of this allowance could mean young people leaving school will be faced with little option but to stay at home.”
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.
Their petition can be signed at www.change.org/p/save-the-training-bonus-minister-simon-harris