Limerick man claims State has abandoned his special needs daughter

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Tony Noonan with his daughter Siobhan after their home was named Ireland's most Christmasy home last year. Pic: Don Moloney

A COUNTY Limerick father has accused the State and health services of having abandoned his daughter whose special needs day care service was shut down four months ago due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Tony Noonan, from Templeglantine, told the Limerick Post: “We have a special needs child, Siobhan, who is 40 yeas old in October, and she has been abandoned by the state and by her service provider since March 13.

“For the past 13 weeks we have had no contact from anybody,” he claimed.

Siobhan was one of three people who had been attending the Brothers of Charity day services in Foynes where 14 other people have remained in residential care.

Mr Noonan said his daughter needs specialised 24-hour care.

“My daughter was attending an essential service. She suffers from a disease called Rett syndrome. She’s forty years of age and can’t talk, she can’t go to the toilet on her own. We have her at home but she had been going into day services from 9am to 5pm, five days a week.

The state has a responsibility to look after any citizen in this state, and the most vulnerable, which my daughter is, and they’ve abandoned her,” Mr Noonan added.

Asked if he had received any plan for his daughter’s care since last March, he replied: “No, not at all. However, there is a plan for golf courses to open, for squash courts to open, for hairdressers to open, for pubs to open, for restaurants to open, but no plan for the most vulnerable in our society — That tells it all.”

Mr Noonan said he gave up his job to help his wife look after their daughter’s highly specialised needs, but he receives no carer’s allowance as his wife is designated as Siobhan’s main carer.

“I’m an unpaid carer and my wife is on half the carer’s allowance because she is of pension age. I’m 64 now. You can only get one carer’s allowance into the house and my wife turned 66 so she only gets half carer’s allowance because she is getting the pension.”

Siobhan’s love of Christmas lights, prompted Tony to raise €250,000 for charities, through donations received from visitors to his Christmas decorated home.

“This has opened my eyes, because I have a lot of work done for people and not one of them has knocked on my door. It’s a fair kick in the teeth, but anyway, I’m well able to take it.”

“I’m not the only person with a child with special needs. I want the government to be accountable.”

“I want my daughter back in her day service – end of.”

“I’m challenging any Minister to explain to me that Siobhan’s service is not an essential service. Let them come and mind her and see how they get on with her. That’s my answer for them.”

Although a HSE spokesman said that they “cannot comment on individual cases”, he pointed out that there were 1,029 day attendees in the Mid West region at the Brothers of Charity services who have been impacted by the closure of services, due to Covid-19.

“The decision to close day services was in line with NPHET’s guidance, and this is to protect service users and staff during the lockdown period.”

“The HSE Disability Service and their partner agencies, identified service users who required a level of support ranging from regular phone contact, to outreach support.  566 services users availed of these supports.

“The reopening of services will commence on a phased basis, all families are being engaged with during the month of August with a view to the recommencement of a level of service from  September,” the spokesman added.