2007 Annual Review
Issued on June 1 2008
Some years are easier to categorise than others. 2005 marked the commencement of the Disability Act. The following year the sectoral plans commenced along with the social partnership agreement.
The year under review can be characterised as one of "A Lot Planned - All to Do". This was the title of our General Election campaign, where we sought to move Government thinking forward to active implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS). In our campaign we sought a commitment from the new Government that it would "identify for each year of the Programme for Government the objectives and outcomes for the NDS, having regard to the vision and long term goals for people with disabilities as set out in 'Towards 2016'".
The agreed Programme for Government reads: "We are committed to ensuring that the Strategy (NDS) is driven and managed from a whole of Government perspective and will be overseen and supported by the Department of An Taoiseach. This Government, will for each year of the Programme for Government, set out the objectives and outcomes to be reached for people with disabilities as set out in 'Towards 2016'". This was a critical achievement for DFI.
However, by year end there was no 'setting out' of the objectives and outcomes to be reached in 2008, and the promised Office of Minister for Disability and Mental Health had not been established. This, along with other issues, such as the pulling back of resource commitments in the Health Service Executive (HSE), shows an overall deceleration in the implementation process for the NDS. Government has committed to delivery of half of the NDS by 2010, and to full delivery by 2015. In our view, unless there is sustained acceleration it is unlikely that either of these targets will be met.
DFI has given critical leadership to the disability movement through having directly influenced the commitments made in the Programme for Government. Apart from this, DFI focused its work on a number of related areas, including the provision of a wide range of supports to our member organisations and developing methods of monitoring the policy commitments in the NDS and 'Towards 2016'.
At Board level we commenced a review of our governance systems, we reviewed the Operational Plan 2005 - 2007 and agreed a new plan out to 2010, which will bring the Strategic Plan (2004 - 2010) to a conclusion. Along with our Annual General Meeting, at Geraldine Clare Chairperson 4 which the work of the previous year was reviewed, we specifically reported to the National Council in October on the review of the Operational Plan. The views of the National Council assisted and guided the Board and Executive in shaping the new plan.
The Board governance review has taken into account the responsibility of Directors and the need for the Board to develop appropriate standards and best practice in relation to governance. Apart from consideration at a number of meetings, a special meeting of the Board was held and a sub-committee was appointed to progress the work, which will result in an up-to-date governance manual for Board use.
I want to briefly mention some further areas which have been central to our work during the year. The conference "We Can't Opt Out of the Future" was more than an event. It was the catalyst for developing important materials and gaining greater commitment to, and know-how around, furthering collaboration and joint work within the voluntary disability sector and between it and the State. A very solid expression of our interest in collaborative working was that DFI entered into formal understandings with a number of organisations namely The Wheel, the Neurological Alliance of Ireland and the Not for Profit Business Association.
As the year started we received funding to support our social policy work and as it ended we were successful in gaining funding to put a project worker in place to help us deepen our work with member organisations to maximise their input into the implementation of the NDS.
During the year we welcomed two new members to the Board Maurice O'Connell and Barbara Flynn and during the same period a number of members resigned namely Marie Lynch, Donal Danagher, Ann Marie Flanagan and Barbara Flynn. I wish to thank them all for their contribution and service.
Many other people throughout the membership of DFI work on a regular basis to provide voluntary service to the Federation's mission. They too are to be acknowledged and thanked.
There were also significant staff changes during the year, and I want to wish those who moved on from DFI all the best, and to welcome new staff.
Finally, I would like to thank our Chief Executive, John Dolan, and staff members, for their continued dedication to ensuring that the objectives of the Disability Federation of Ireland are achieved.