"My son's life depends on it" - Dundalk mum's urgent housing need

Tia Clarke


Tia Clarke



Tracy McGinnis

Dundalk mum Tracy McGinnis and her 13-year-old son Brendan

Dundalk-based mum-of-two Tracy McGinnis is desperately calling on Louth County Council to provide suitable housing that will cater to her son Brendan's “profound needs” so that he can recover from a “long and intensive” major operation this July in comfort. 

Tracy's critically ill 13-year-old son Brendan was born with congenital CMV which has left him severely disabled and medically fragile.

Image taken from Tracy's Twitter

The family are currently living in private rental accommodation, however, their current house does not provide the essential requirements that her son Brendan will need when he is released from the hospital after his spinal fusion operation in July.

In fact, she is currently unable to use a floor hoist to lift him from his medical bed, which is a danger to both of them as she is forced to lift him herself.

Tracy explained: “In July, Brendan will not be able to come back to this house. It's not that I want a mansion on the hill. I just want to save my son’s life, for as long as I can, and make it the best it can be while I am blessed to have him in my life. My son’s life is literally dependent upon having the proper house."

The mum explained: “We need a ceiling track hoist for Brendan and an adjoining wet room with double doors so that he can be lifted in through the door. He'll also need to be kept clean.
“I can't bathe him in the wet room at the moment, because of the angles in this house, I can't take Brendan into the wet room using the floor hoist.   

“Our housing situation has to be sorted before July. At the moment, when Brendan is ready to come home from his spinal fusion operation, he has nowhere to go. If he was forced to recover in a group setting (such as a hospital) that would mean he could risk picking up an infection. And that's a risk we can't take.”

In addition to the challenges Tracy faces as a lone parent and carer – caring for her son 24/7 with just 15 days of respite a year from children's charity Laura Lynn, (five hours of respite services per week to be provided by the Louth disability team which is currently being arranged), being housebound for more than 130 days and not being able to find more time for her 9-year-old son Declan – Ms McGinnis is also under huge financial pressure. 

Image  taken from Tracy's Twitter 

Tracy is Brendan's full-time carer and as such relies on a carer's allowance to care for her family. This means that the mum-of-two does not qualify for a mortgage because banks will not consider her carer's allowance as income.

The mum-of-two explained: “I hate that as a full-time carer I am relegated to welfare, it, therefore,  resigns  us to poverty, no future savings, no stability, no security, and no sense of self-worth for having once-upon-a-time worked my way through university and then through graduate school.”

The frustrated mum of two is calling for local county councils to allow carers apply for low-interest loans to purchase council houses so that the McGinnis's and other families in their position can have a chance at breaking out of the cycle of being dependent on Ireland's unstable rental market.
“If I could qualify for a home loan, I would buy my own house in a heartbeat! And frankly, I want to do it on my own!” Tracy said.

The mum, who has a Master's Degree in Counselling, has recently been in touch with Louth County Council about a bungalow she found for sale close to their current location which would suit the families needs perfectly. 

Writing on her blog recently, the mum said: “Brendan’s medical team, disability team, and various people in politics are all working on letters to appeal to the Louth County Council for this urgently required housing.

“As I seriously doubt there is any such house in their supply, I would imagine it would mean the County Council acquiring a bungalow currently for sale and making any modifications if needed. 
“But will they do that? If so, how long will it take? I have to ask because my son’s life hangs in the balance.”

Tracy is the co-founder of Profound Ireland, an organisation for children and adults with severe disabilities, and runs  www.transitioningangels.com. She also campaigns for carers to be trained and certified as nursing assistants by the Government and provided with a living wage and a pension.