Costello Pledges Support for Section 39 Disability Organisations

28 January 2020

by Cllr Joe Costello

 I am pleased confirm  my full support for  Section 39 Disability Organistions and the priorities of the Disability Action Coalition,  The Coalition is made up of nine disability service providers who together employ 9,000 staff and provide services to tens of thousands of people with disability, all across the country. The organisations involved are: Irish Wheelchair Association, Enable Ireland, National Council for the Blind in Ireland, MS Ireland, the Rehab Group, Cheshire Ireland, Chime, Headway and Acquired Brain Injury Ireland.  Many of these organisations are headquartered in Dublin Central. 

Section 39 organisations are in crisis due to the Government’s underfunding of the sector, as well as the cost of regulation, insurance, and staffing shortages. I work with many Section 39 Organisations across Dublin Central and am keenly aware of the important and invaluable work they do. 

I fully support the call to reverse the cuts to the disability budget. However, increasing funding alone won’t alleviate the current structural issues faced by Section 39 organisations. For example the issue of insurance needs to be addressed. The previous Fine Gael-led Government choose to indirectly subsidise insurance companies rather than engage in serious reform of the insurance sector. In contrast we have developed a long-term policy solutions to address such issues such as extending the State Claims Agency cover to Section 38 and 39 bodies, to ensure that health and social care service providers who are mostly or fully funded by the HSE have their public liability insurance costs met by the State Claims Agency. This will significantly reduce their insurance premiums and free up more resources for frontline healthcare and disability services.

In relation to both staffing and funding, we will negotiate with public service unions to reach a pay agreement to succeed the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), which expires at the end of 2020, including establishing a structured, fair and sustainable funding model for Section 39 agencies, to underpin services and ensure fair pay for Section 39 workers.

Finally, I fully support implementation of the 24 recommendations in the Report of the Independent Review Group of voluntary organisations in Publicly Funded Health and Social Care Organisations chaired by Catherine Day. There is €3.3 billion per annum invested in these organisations and it is time for a proper funding and governance structure to be put in place to support them.

I am asking the voters in Dublin Central to give me their No 1 Vote on Saturday, 8 February and assure them that a  vote for Joe Costello is a vote to prioritise Section 39 Service Providers and Staff.