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Government is failing citizens with disabilities – Adams

27 March, 2018 - by Gerry Adams

Speaking during Sinn Féin’s Private Members motion on Disability Services in the Dáil on Tuesday evening, the Louth TD Gerry Adams accused the government of failing citizens with disabilities, including in Louth and East Meath.

The Sinn Féin TD for Louth specifically highlighted the crisis in the provision or lack of provision of respite beds in Louth for adults with intellectual disabilities. And the ongoing absence of emergency respite beds. He also raised two specific cases of young people – Sam and Brendan – without proper services

Teachta Adams called on the government to provide the legislation, funding and services needed by citizens with a disability.

With a copy of the Proclamation of 1916 in his hand, Gerry Adams pointed out that the Proclamation is very clear on the issue of equality.

Teachta Adams said:

“It says that the Republic guarantees … ‘equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation … cherishing all the children of the nation equally …’

“It doesn’t say except for those who have a disability. In fact, arguably the Proclamation is talking directly to those people who need and deserve equality. Those who need more rights than the rest of us.

“There are six hundred and forty-three thousand individual citizens, many with families, trying to financially, physically, emotionally cope with a disability. It used to be that these citizens were locked up in institutions. Thankfully, those days are gone.

“Although recently the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, found that the state had been denying the necessary supports to a woman who had been fostering a teenager ‘Molly’ – not her real name - who has Down Syndrome and severe autism. The Ombudsman found that the state had abdicated its responsibilities.

“It also found that there is a problem facing many of the 472 children, including Molly, with disabilities, in the care of the state. The Ombudsman’s recommendations were accepted by the HSE and Tusla. However, the HSE pointed out that its commitment is ultimately resource dependent.

“In other words, it needs the funding. I raised this issue at the time. I know also from my own constituency that this is the case. I and other local TDs have been highlighting the crisis in the provision or lack of provision of respite beds in Louth for adults with intellectual disabilities. I have been consistently raising the absence of emergency services. I have written to this Taoiseach and to the last Taoiseach about this. I have written to Health Ministers about this, including the Minister for State. I made costed proposals which I sent directly to the Minister and to Taoiseach Varadkar.

“Despite this, and all of the promises from the government, there are still no emergency respite services for the citizens in the constituency that I represent. There is still no Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016. There is still no Decision Support Service as promised in the Assisted Decision Making Capacity Act 2015.

“The Fine Gael/ Labour government scrapped the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grants for people with disabilities in February 2013. It promised a new scheme. This was after that scheme was found to be illegal and not in compliance with the Equal Status Act and Disability Act. Five years later there is still no new scheme.

“It took 13 years for the government to finally ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Thirteen years. Sam was five when the government should have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Since his 18th birthday in July last year Sam has no respite support. He has severe Autism with significant high support needs. He has complex medical needs. He has diabetes. He is coeliac and doubly incontinent at night.

“Brendan in 13 years old with a diagnosis of Cerebal Palsy. His condition is life limiting. He is bed ridden. He has open sores. He has scoliosis and is awaiting surgery. He has profound medical needs. Brendan’s mother is fighting to get in-home respite care, and a homecare package that meets his needs. Minister Harris, Minister McGrath, the Taoiseach have met with Sam’s mother. They know that Sam and Brendan’s mothers have to fight the system every single day to get services for their children.

“They are only two examples of citizens with disabilities who have been let down by the state. It may be that the government will not oppose this PMB. That would be welcome. But it won’t be good enough. Because it will not make one iota of difference to citizens with disabilities; to their families; to carers; and to those in the voluntary and community sector who help them.

“And it will not make any difference unless and until the government ensure that funding is made available to meet the needs of these citizens. Unless it makes these citizens and their rights a priority. Unless as Teachta Ó Caoláin has said, unless the Taoiseach champions this cause. And nothing else will be good enough.” 

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