07/04/09 - People with Disabilities Vulnerable

April 7 2009


Urgent Call for 5 Year Plan

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI), in responding to the supplementary Budget, has welcomed the decision not to reduce the level of social welfare payments. These payments are necessary to help with the extra everyday costs of being disabled. However, DFI has called for an agreed multi-annual plan to rescue the process of implementing the National Disability Strategy.

“Government needs to urgently agree with the disability sector a five year plan detailing how the National Disability Strategy will be protected and advanced and through which the disability sector can actively work with the State to ensure maximum value and outcomes.”

stated John Dolan, Chief Executive of the DFI.

He went on to state that

“significant investment in disability over the past decade may now be thrown away by Government, or instead it can be protected and used to keep necessary services in place. We have been taking cuts in this sector for the past two years, long before the recession commenced, and the effects are already being felt by disabled people and their families. Health services are continually being cut.”

“Protection of services for people with disabilities and those with mental health needs is an essential element in the State’s battle to emerge from the recession and to ensure that a viable social provision infrastructure is in place. Disability crosses every part of the lifecycle from infancy right through to old age, and reaches across every area of public service provision. The harsh reality is that there are still substantial unmet needs, and the effects of disability and mental health needs will be greater on people battling with unemployment and recession”

John Dolan continued.

On the subject of fairness, he noted that

“the fairness mantra has to be related to the ability of people to deal with pain of all kinds. People with disabilities are already very vulnerable. That is what disability does to people, therefore their capacity to survive the knocks is very limited”

The statement concluded that DFI and its member organisations are dedicated to working fully with Government to protect and develop the National Disability Strategy and to maximising outcomes despite the curtailed funding.