MEP helps to Fund new Group
The launch of the Louth Family Carers Support Group on Friday last was given a major boost by way of a cheque for €2,500 presented to them by Independent MEP Marian Harkin.
The MEP, representing Co. Louth for the first time in the European Parliament, uses a personal fund created from her teacher and TD pensions to fund family carers groups in her constituency
Referring to the work of family carers, the Independent MEP said that carers and volunteers were the glue which held society together. “In Co. Louth over 5,000 carers, with their voluntary work, constitute a value of over €100 million to the State in unpaid work each year”, she said.
In her first term as an MEP she had established, with former Independent MEP Kathy Sinnott, a Carers Interest Group in the European Parliament through which she had secured positive recognition that the needs of carers had to be taken into account when framing related legislation, Marian Harkin said.
“The vast majority of carers across the EU are family carers and it is imperative that they are put at the centre of public policy”, she insisted. At EU level while there had been no direct funding for carers she had ensured that Eurocarers, an organisation representing family carers at EU level, was able to access funding because of an amendment to the EU budget she had secured.
The majority of family carers in Ireland were women, she said, and it was vital that they should not become a generation of ‘older poorer women’ without future pension support. “This is why my office asked carers groups to make submissions to the European Commission’s ‘Work Life Balance Consultation’ and it was heartening that an amendment I supported, calling for a Carers Leave Directive received majority support in the European Parliament”, she said.
Marian Harkin praised the recent development of a single national organisation for carers - Family Carers Ireland - which would effectively represent their interests. “I wish the new Louth Family Carers Support Group every success in their voluntary work which will be vital to sustaining and enhancing the lives of the thousands of dependents who require the daily support which only voluntary family carers can give”, Independent MEP Marian Harkin concluded.