The Government's budget allocation for a scheme providing personal alarms for marginalised older people has been significantly under-spent for the past four years and saw a 12% reduction this year.

Official figures on the Senior Alerts Scheme provided to Independent TD Mattie McGrath also show that €800,000 earmarked for the scheme was not spent last year – 31% of the total allocation.

The Muintir na Tíre organisation, which helps administer the project, has criticised the low draw down.

It urged the Government to spend any money that had not been spent on promoting the scheme.

The development comes as another national advocacy group, Age Action Ireland, urged older people who have safety concerns following two court convictions today in cases where the victims were elderly, to use the scheme or to get private security systems installed in their homes.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, Justin Moran said older people should also foster good relationships with their neighbours.

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Calling the attacks in question "unspeakable acts of barbarity", Mr Moran said that, in the majority of cases, older people are less likely to be victims of crime, but the most likely to be frightened of it.

The scheme, which supplies a personal alarm and pendant to older people of limited means living alone or with other seniors, provides personal monitored alarms and is administered by over 400 local community voluntary and non-profit organisations.

The equipment is funded by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Rural and Community Development.

Mr Moran said: "If there is a community alert, or text alert system in your area, get involved in it and participate."

But earlier this year, in response to a Dáil Question from Deputy McGrath, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Catherine Byrne revealed the extent of the under-spending (below)