The number of children and adolescents awaiting first-time assessment for occupational therapy in the Sligo-Leitrim area is shocking and abhorrent.

The most recent figures released by the HSE indicate that there are currently in excess of 220 young people on the waiting list in this area with 49 of these on the waiting list for in excess of a year.

Such waiting times are shameful and make a mockery of the idea of early intervention. And we must remember that these children are waiting for an initial assessment only. They will have to wait even longer for a further appointment and actual therapy.  In what other E.U country would such a situation be tolerated.

To have so many young people waiting so long for an assessment for such essential therapy is just inexcusable. It’s as if this government does not care.

It is common knowledge that waiting such long periods of time for assessment and then for treatment can have a detrimental impact on young people’s quality of life and treatment outcomes.

If we also take into consideration the fact that in recent months Sligo University Hospital has been one of the most overcrowded hospitals in the country in addition to the recent decision by the government to slash the funding for Sligo’s housing grant scheme for older people and for people with a disability, it becomes quite clear that Fine Gael has little interest in Sligo.

The deafening silence from the Fine Gael and Independent Alliance candidates on these important issues speaks volumes.