Bailout exited, but recession still impacting on people with disabilities

December 16 2013

Press and media

Press Release from Disability Federation of Ireland

Dublin, 13th December 2013

Ireland will exit the bailout on the 16th December, but the message emerging today from the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is that “the recession is not over for disabled people in Ireland”.

The organisation is urging Government to start focussing on reinvesting in Ireland’s health and social infrastructure, and for the needs of people with disabilities to be given due recognition by Government, as the Taoiseach and Tánaiste committed to in the final pre-election debate.

John Dolan, CEO of DFI stated, “this week, the Taoiseach and his cabinet are preparing to publish a new Medium-Term Economic Strategy for 2016-2020, which they say will ‘set out a new sustainable economic pathway back to prosperity’. Enda Kenny wants Ireland to be the best small country in which to do business, but the same enthusiasm to make it a great country to live in is not there: Government has failed to pave any sustainable social pathways for the future. Exiting the bailout is regarded as a significant step towards economic recovery and a major victory for Government; however, vital social outcomes have been neglected. Indicators of economic growth contradict the reality on the ground for people with disabilities, who have once again been side-lined in the drive towards recovery”.

Mr Dolan explained that people with disabilities have endured cuts of more than 8% to means-tested disability welfare payments and 14% to essential HSE services during the recession, and are now twice as likely to live below the poverty line as the rest of the population. These cuts have been experienced despite the fact that large levels of unmet need existed even at the onset of the recession.

He continued, “the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste stated in the final pre-election debate that disability was the key social justice priority that they would pursue if elected; however, there has been little evidence of this. People with disabilities have been excluded from labour market activation programmes, while there has been a steady chipping away at the services and supports that enable people to live ordinary lives in the community, with no planning to reinstate these services post-bailout. This is in contravention of stated Government policy goals.”

He concluded, “the Government needs to give equal consideration to social inclusion as they give to the continuing pursuit of economic growth. If they don’t, it will cause excessive and unnecessary damage to the social and health infrastructure of Ireland, as well as to the values that guide our society. Furthermore, it will also severely damage the reputation and authority of the Government. The impact of budgetary and policy decisions on people with disabilities and their families are cumulative, and these will extend into a post-austerity Ireland where the damage will be all the more visible and shocking.”

For further information please contact:

John Dolan, CEO, 086 795 7467

Allen Dunne, Deputy CEO, 086 850 2112