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Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD on disability rights: It is all about political choices

4 November, 2016 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking today at a disabilities conference in the Carrickdale Hotel in Louth entitled ‘Unite for Rights’, organised by Martina Anderson MEP, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Disability Rights said that Sinn Féin joins with people with disabilities, stating clearly their statement that there will be ‘no recovery without us’.

During the course of his address Deputy Ó Caoláin focused on a number of issues including Sinn Fein’s plan for Universal Healthcare, his hopes for the formal recognition of Irish Sign Language in the coming weeks, and the urgent need for the immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Furthermore, Deputy Ó Caoláin commented on the announcements made in Budget 2017 describing the provision for disability services as ‘miserly’ in comparison to Sinn Fein’s commitment to invest an additional €54.812 million for the prioritisation of disability services.

Commenting on Sinn Fein’s plan for people with disabilities Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

“Sinn Féin has a vision for society in which all citizens, including those with disabilities, can play a full and independent part in all aspects of life, relying, as far as possible, on mainstream services for health, education and employment but with the support of tailored disability services where necessary.

“Sinn Féin’s alternative budget for 2017 showed how it could be done, how we could change the lives of all those thousands of people living with disabilities. Our measures would employ 600 additional front line staff including speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists. We would provide 500,000 additional personal assistance hours. We would invest in neuro rehab teams and transitional services and would provide an increase of 20% in respite care services.

“These are all costed, credible, necessary and most importantly, achievable measures that would have a significant, positive impact on the lives of so many including those living with a disability in Ireland.

“The impact of austerity on the most vulnerable in our society has been devastating. We repeatedly hear of this so called ‘recovery’ but a recovery for whom? It isn’t a recovery for the almost 600,000 people living with a disability.  The most unfair tax break that the government introduced in Budget 2017 was Capital Acquisitions Tax. A tax change that will benefit only two thousand people each year- people who have inherited €280,000 tax free will be allowed inherit an additional €30,000 tax free. This will cost the Irish public nearly €20 million. Why couldn’t that money have been invested into the provision of services for the disabled? It all comes down to priorities and choices. This Government keeps making the wrong choices” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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