Alarm raised as cuts hit elderly

“This is a life and death situation,” declared Cllr Marc Connolly at Mountmellick Town Council monthly meeting last week.

“This is a life and death situation,” declared Cllr Marc Connolly at Mountmellick Town Council monthly meeting last week.

He joined colleagues in slamming the Government for cutting the telephone allowance for pensioners, thereby vastly increasing the cost of their press-alarm systems.

Adopted unanimously was Cllr Stephen Lynch’s proposal, seconded by Cllr Bobby Delaney, calling on Social Welfare Minister Joan Burton to reverse the cut.

Cllr Delaney said the annual cost of the alarm had been just 66 euros. That had now increased hugely. To back up his case, he told of a pensioner who had recently received a two-monthly phone rental bill of almost 33 euros. Before he had paid zero because he made little or no phone calls. The only reason he had a phone landline was for the alarm system.

“It’s a major mistake by the Government to charge pensioners for this,” added Cllr Delaney.

Cllr Ollie Payne: “It’s probably the cheapest and most efficient alarm system, but you have to have a landline. It’s disgusting that the Minister and Eircom got together and came up with this.”

He argued: “If you are going to start hitting people with this, their last line of defence is gone. To me that is disgusting.”

Cllr Denis O’Mara: “A lot of people got in the phone just because they had to have a link with the alarm. It’s an absolute scandal.”

Cllr Paddy Bracken: “We should write in the strongest possible terms to the Minister to reverse this cut. Just think of people out on their own at night in rural areas terrified.”

Cllr Connolly said the cut showed Minister Burton’s ignorance of people living in rural areas--people who had served the state for their lifetimes.

Cllr Delaney said he had asked Deputy Charles Flanagan to raise the issue as a matter of urgency.