Disability Consultation ‘discriminatory and unacceptable’ – Gerry Adams
Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Gerry Adams, has described the decision by the Department of Justice and Equality to limit direct engagement opportunities on the new Disability Inclusion Strategy 2016-2020, to venues in Dublin, Cork and Tullamore as “discriminatory and unacceptable.”
Teachta Adams called 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, including Louth.
Gerry Adams said;
“The decision by the Department of Justice and Equality to limit opportunities for engagement in the new Disability Inclusion Strategy to three venues across the entire State is discriminatory and is unacceptable.
“In my own constituency of Louth there are two major ongoing issues affecting the quality of life of those with disabilities and their families. The cancellation of respite provision at St Mary’s Drumcar and the non continuance of funding for the Walk Peer Project which supports people with disabilities to access employment and education are causing severe annoyance and frustration among those affected.
“People with disabilities, and those who care for them should be afforded every opportunity to have their voices heard. Many will not be in a position to travel long journeys to access and participate in this consultative process. While they can forward written submissions, I believe they should have 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 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 and to include a venue in Louth. I hope that Minister Fitzgerald will accept the validity of my concerns and criticism and will act accordingly and without delay.”
Rhion Jones, tCI Programme Director, comments: “This West of Ireland may be a long way from the South of England but the issue raised by Gerry Adams TD probably applies throughout these islands – with communities of disabled people feeling they have inadequate opportunities to become engaged with changes to services or disability policies. Over-reliance on online consultation has become a real issue in recent years and High Court judgments have reinforced the need to offer people a traditional way to contribute their views and ideas, as well as the use of new technology.”