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Rights of Carers can be secured through a Bill of Rights- O'Neill MLA

1 February, 2008

Sinn Féin disability spokesperson Michelle O'Neill MLA has welcomed a landmark legal case which favoured a London carer who was discriminated against by her employers.

The case, taken to the European Court of Justice, sends a message to Irish employers and also highlights the need for a Bill of Rights in the six counties.

Ms O'Neill said,

"Sharon Coleman's case sends a signal to Irish employers that the rights and needs of carers must be heard.

"For an employer to call an employee "lazy" when she is taking time off to care for her disabled son is ludicrous.

"The needs of carers must be addressed and carers must be recognised for the work that they do.

"Throughout Ireland there are many hundreds and thousands of people who provide care for the ones they love. Carers are looking after their parents, their children, their partners, friends and other relatives. Families that have made the decision to care for their loved ones at home should be given as much assistance as possible.

"They are coping with physical and mental disability. Yet in far too many cases they are not getting the support they need.

"There are circumstances where carers have to cut back on food, heating and clothes, give up their jobs and sacrifice their pensions to care for their loved ones. This is despite the fact that carers support is worth £1.9bn a year to the north.

"The rights of carers can be safeguarded through a Bill of Rights for the six counties.

"It is my view as a Republican that a Bill of Rights can strongly underpin the entire context of democratic governance that is based on the principles of equality and human rights for all."


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