SIPTU is supporting a protest rally over cuts affecting the elderly, the sick and the vulnerable in Budget 2014 which is taking place outside the Dáil at 1.15 p.m. on Tuesday, 22nd October. SIPTU National Retired Staff Council chairman, Frank Gannon, said: “Budget 2014 delivered a substantial hit to older people in particular. Pensioners, those with a disability, carers, the sick and those living alone, will face increased hardship when the cuts in Budget 2014 are implemented. “This is why we are supporting the call for a show of solidarity with the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and other organisations representing older peopleon Tuesday at Dáil Eireann.” He added: “The ending of the telephone allowance, for example, could have very serious consequences for those living alone in rural areas; the loss of the death grant could drive vulnerable people into the hands of money lenders; increased prescription charges could see those with multiple illnesses having to make choices about what drugs to take and the lowering of the income threshold for medical cards means an estimated 35,000 people will lose their cards.  Even if they qualify for free GP visit cards they will be forced to pay up to €144 per month for drugs compared with €25 maximum for those with a medical card. “The capping of tax relief on medical insurance schemes will most likely see people giving up private health insurance altogether, putting an even greater strain on the public health system in the future. “Older people have been accused by media commentators of not having been hit by the austerity measures introduced by the current Government. The fact is they have been hit by cuts that include those to Home Help care packages, respite care grants, the fuel support scheme, rising drug costs and soaring energy bills.”