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Ó Snodaigh describes Disability Bill debate a sham

19 May, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights has described the Disability Bill debate in the Dáil as a "sham" and accused the Government of "cynically drawing the Disability sector into a futile and pointless two year round of discussions".

He also said they had "betrayed" the trust of all those who had engaged in the process in good faith. Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his comments as the Dáil debate drew to a close and following the ruling out of order of a number of constructive amendments to the Bill made by Sinn Féin. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "It is with considerable regret that I feel it necessary to label the whole debate on the Disability Bill currently before the Dáil as a sham but unfortunately there is no other word to describe it.

While everybody else acted in good faith and engaged in a process on the basis of trying to achieve the best possible outcome for people with disabilities the Government has betrayed that trust. "Not only have they misled the Disability Legislation Consultation Group but they have cynically drawn the entire disability sector into a futile and pointless two year round of discussions. Not only is that outrageous it is entirely unforgivable. "

The archaic rules of the Dáil which have ensured that serious amendments to the Bill couldn't be taken has further compounded the matter as virtually no debate of substance can take place. The dismissal of a large number of Sinn Féin and other opposition party amendments, which would have had the effect of addressing many of the issues of concern to the Disability sector, on the grounds that they may "potentially‚ involve a cost to the Exchequer" is absurd when you look at some of the issues concerned. "

One of the over 30 Sinn Féin amendments ruled out of order was in regard to the ring-fencing of funds, something that this Government seems only to willing to do in relation to the horse and greyhound industry. Another amendment called for the Bill to adopt the same definition of disability that is already used in the Equal Status Act. And another amendment called for Disability Services to be provided in a manner consistent with Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which the Government is already bound by." ENDS

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