Consultation provision 'discriminatory and unacceptable' - Ó Caoláin
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability Rights and Older People Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as "discriminatory and unacceptable" the decision by the Department of Justice and Equality to limit direct engagement opportunities for disability service users and their families in the next phase of public consultation on the new Disability Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020, to venues in Dublin, Cork and Tullamore.
The long serving Sinn Féin Dáil Deputy, who is now Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, is calling on Minister Frances Fitzgerald to intervene with the Equality Division in her Department to extend the venue opportunities to locations in the West, North-West and North-East border counties.
Deputy Ó Caoláin stated;
"That the Department of Justice and Equality in their continuing preparation of a new Disability Inclusion Strategy would limit their direct engagement provision for people with disabilities and their families to venues in Cork, in Dublin and in Tullamore in Co. Offaly is discriminatory and is unacceptable.
"There is no doubt in my mind that many people with disabilities, and those who care for and support them in their lives, will not be able to travel long journeys to access and participate in this consultative process. While they can forward written submissions, I believe many would appreciate the chance to offer their insights, experiences and expectations for the new strategy in person.
"Why the Department with responsibility for Equality would so spectacularly limit the opportunity for direct participation by people with disabilities, and others who would have a contribution to make to the process, beggars belief.
"Why is there not a venue opportunity in the West of Ireland? Why is there not a venue opportunity in the North-West? Why is there not a venue opportunity in the border counties of the North-East?
"I have today written to the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD urging her immediate intervention to ensure a more accessible spread of meeting locations and dates, the three already set all scheduled in the month of October. I would hope that Minister Fitzgerald will accept the validity of my concerns and criticism and will act accordingly and without delay" concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.