Ó Snodaigh backs Disability Federation call for funds
Speaking today, at the launch of the Disability Federation of Ireland's Pre-Budget Submission 2009, Sinn Féin Equality and Human Rights Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD called on the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan to divert €70 million from the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund into disability services.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I have been in attendance at this event in previous years, and it seems to me, regretfully, that the very reasonable demands made by the Disability Federation of Ireland have fallen on deaf ears, and shameful, even in the years of the Celtic Tiger.
"Now that Ireland's economy is officially in recession, the first thought is always of cutbacks. And yes, the first to be hit by cut-backs are the weakest in society, those least able to defend themselves. I know from working with disability groups and other advocates for the disabled, that they are no longer unable to defend themselves, they have champions like the Disability Federation of Ireland who will not allow cutbacks to go unchallenged.
"Huge cuts have already been implemented by the HSE this year and more are promised. So much for the promises made during the passage of the Disability Act. The promise that there was no need to guarantee services as of right and that it would all be taken care of in multi-annual funding.
"The cuts now beginning to bite and will severely hamper the ability of voluntary disability organisations to function unless they immediate receive €20million to allow them to deliver the services the HSE in many instances should be delivering but aren't. This has to be front loaded so the HSE cannot divert it as they did last year with €5million of the budget allocation this year.
"Year on year Sinn Féin has joined the many others who have called, in their pre-Budget submissions, for a Cost of Disability Payment. But we continue to wait. Now more than ever, with the cost of living increasing, the disposable income of people with disabilities, if any, is being used to try to reach par with those without a disability.
"It is also vital that voluntary organisations are given the tools to be able to deliver the services which the State, in particular the HSE, has not, or is not willing to deliver. That is the demand for capacity-building mentioned in the Disability Federation of Ireland submission and the demand for an additional €50 million to implement the National Disability Strategy. This is to make up for previous shortfalls and to play catch-up for years of under-funding.
"If the Minister wants to know where to find this money, and show that he values humans more than he values greyhounds and racing horses, he should divert the €70million from the Horse and Greyhound Racing fund to fund disability services." ENDS