The Tanaiste said in the Dail yesterday that he thinks “it’s a mistake” that a young journalism student from Achill who has been offered a scholarship to complete a PhD in DCU, is being forced to decline the honour, as it comes at the cost of her having to forfeit her disability allowance and associated travel and medical card allowances.
Catherine Gallagher is a 23 year disabled student, and is devastated at the dilemma that she now faces. Speaking to Midwest News earlier this week, she insisted however, that she is not alone, as the present system works against disabled students successfully taking up scholarships to pursue postgraduate studies.
Her situation was raised in the Dail yesterday by Mayo Deputy Rose Conway Walsh, the Sinn Fein Spokesperson for Higher Education, who called on the government to end the unfair practice of removing disabilities supports from students who are awarded postgraduate scholarships.
In response the Tanaiste Leo Varadkar indicated that “it was a mistake” but has committed to investigating it further.
Deputy Conway Walsh says she will continue to raise Catherine’s case, because she says Catherine is just one of many disabled students at present caught in the same trap.
The deputy has been been speaking to Midwest News Editor Teresa O'Malley..
Catherine Gallagher has contacted Midwest News today to highlight a development in the saga, she says that under the Government Operational Guidelines for Means Assessment on all social welfare schemes that: “Income from non-profit making charitable organisations” is excluded from means assessment https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/11f23e-means-assessment-guidelines/
Dublin City University is a registered charity: https://www.charitiesregulator.ie/en/information-for-the-public/search-the-register-of-charities/charity-detail?srchstr=dublin%20city%20university%20®id=20013653.
Dublin City University Registered Charity Number is: 20013653.
Catherine explained to Midwest News "with this information, I believe that people working in the Department of Social Protection may not be fully aware of the Government’s guidelines in relation to the exemption of charitable and non-profit organisation. I hope that this information clarifies my entitlement to accept the university scholarship grant without being penalised".
Meanwhile, deputy Rose Conway Walsh will be raising the dilemna for students with a disability taking up scholarships to pursue Doctorate studies, on Wednesday next in the Dail with the Taoiseach Mícheal Martin.