Disability Federation of Ireland Calls on People with Disabilities and Disability Organisations to Engage in Local Government Reform

April 3 2014

Press and media

‘Citizen Engagement – Local Government by Local People’

Dublin Castle, 3rd April 2014

The message emerging from the DFI National Conference, being organised by the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) in Dublin Castle today, is that people with disabilities and their families should seize the opportunity offered by local Government reform and use it to help change the lives of people with disabilities in their local communities.

The conference ‘Citizen Engagement – Local Government for Local People’, was opened by Phil Hogan TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, and highlighting the importance of facilitating the engagement of people with disabilities in local government decision-making following the upcoming local government reform.

In addressing today’s conference Minister Hogan said: “The participation of members of local communities, whether as individuals or as members of local community or other groups in public life and their right to influence the decisions that affect their lives and communities are at the centre of democracy. Open and inclusive policy-making enhances transparency and accountability, and builds civic capacity”.

He added: “I wish you well in your discussions today, and your endeavors in the future to promote an understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities and how we can move towards a society where everyone can become an active participant in decision making affecting their lives and their communities, and I will do my utmost to make this become a reality”.

Speaking at today’s conference, John Dolan, CEO, Disability Federation of Ireland said, “Austerity is the order of the day from our leaders in Europe. We cannot afford what is being routinely referred to as a "lost decade". Tell that to the parents of a young child, tell that to a ten year old with muscular dystrophy, and tell that to a daughter caring for her elderly father”.

He continued, “This local government reform could well become the place where people with disabilities and their organisations are given the support and confidence to move forward the creation of inclusive communities and participative local government. The publication of the Report is not the end but the beginning. The signal and leadership has to come from Government through its actions on foot of this welcome package of reform. Mr. Dolan concluded “The recommendations arising from the Citizen Engagement Report offer new and exciting opportunities for engagement. It remains to be seen how each community will endeavour to make that engagement a reality. However, if key stakeholders in each community are working together and ensuring that the voices of all are sought out and heeded, the needs of all citizens, including people with disabilities, will be reflected in local initiatives.”

Mr. Dolan concluded “People with disabilities in Ireland continue to experience significantly poorer social and economic outcomes compared to the rest of the population. We know, for instance, that disabled people are twice as likely to live below the poverty line as the rest of the population and almost three times more likely not to have progressed beyond primary education. These realities surely cannot be ignored during the reform/redevelopment of local government and the vital supports and services it embodies. The implementation of the National Disability Strategy has been unacceptably slow; the reform of local government offers an opportunity to renew its implementation and to meet people needs where they live in the community”.

It is widely known that the current reform in local government stems primarily from the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and the recent publication by Minister Hogan of the Working Group report on Citizen Engagement with Local Government. The implementation of these reforms represents a significant strive forward for local democracy.


For contact: John Dolan, CEO DFI, 086-7957467

Allen Dunne, Dep CEO, DFI, 086-8502112

Jacqueline Grogan, Communciations Officer, 086- 3882600

Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is the national support organisation for voluntary disability organisations in Ireland who provide services to people with disabilities and disabling conditions. Disability Federation of Ireland, Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8.

Telephone: 01 – 4547978, Fax: 01 – 4547981,

Email: info@disability-federation.ie,

Web: www.disability-federation.ie

Union of Voluntary Organisations of People with Disabilities trading as The Disability Federation of Ireland, is a company limited by guarantee not having share capital, registered in Dublin, Ireland with registered offices at Fumbally Court, Fumbally Lane, Dublin 8. Company Registration Number 140948, CHY No 6177.