2003 Annual Review
Issued on June 1 2004
The Annual Report and Accounts of the Disability Federation of Ireland for 2003 presents an opportunity to highlight the activities of the organisation through what has proved to be quite a difficult year. After a period of unprecedented growth the Irish economy experienced a dip, and in that context it was predictable that Government would argue that the good times had passed and that there no longer were sufficient funds to provide essential services for people with disabilities. This argument was reflected in the Budget for 2003, which lacked any real commitment to additional funding for service enhancement.
This was in stark contrast to the ethos surrounding the hosting of the World Special Olympics 2003, which highlighted the positive role that people with disabilities can play in society. The Olympics provided an opportunity for enhancing the public image of people with disabilities. Unfortunately the message did not get through to those charged with the allocation of resources, and at the end of the day, despite all the rhetoric, there was no significant increase in the resource allocations to people with disabilities.
What the nation participated in, and what we witnessed, is not indicative of the reality for many people with disabilities in Ireland. Amongst other issues, DFI campaigned during the year to ensure that people:
- Have adequate living accommodation
- Do not remain long-term in hospitals or nursing homes instead of living in the community
- Do not remain in mental hospitals when there is no clinical reason
In the context of national legislation, the Government produced the long awaited Education for People with Disabilities Bill, which is still going through the Oireachtas. The Bill was fundamentally flawed on two points. Firstly, the definition of disability used is a distinctive one, based on the medical model, and secondly, the Bill does not concern itself with education for people over 18 years of age, yet disabling conditions often impact on educational progression.
There was much background activity on the consultation and preparation of the long awaited Disability Legislation which is due to be published in 2004. This Bill presents an opportunity to give legislative effect to the constitutional rights of people with disabilities, and to further underpin the responsibility of our society to ensure that those rights are fulfilled.
As a national organisation representing organisations in the field of disability, DFI has had a very active and fruitful year. It continued to highlight the issues of the day and to provide much needed practical support to its member organisations around the country. A number of new members joined DFI, and I am confident that in years to come there will be continued growth in membership.
Having campaigned on the issue for a number of years DFI was invited by the Department of The Taoiseach to represent the disability interest in the Community and Voluntary Pillar of the Social Partnership process. This is a major milestone in the recognition of DFI as the national cross-disability federation with the capacity to represent, alongside the other social partners, business, trade unions and farming, the major issues that concern people with disabilities and their families.
DFI''s organisational review continued during the year. This was an internal process which identified the key factors and issues affecting the organisation and its members. This review has now been completed and will lead the way for the development of a new strategic plan for the coming years. I would like to thank all members of staff and member organisations who participated in this review. Such a review is a valuable tool in ensuring that the organisation remains focused on its core objectives. The review document, ''Disability Federation of Ireland - Key Strategic Components'', was unanimously adopted by the National Council in December, and in doing so the Council endorsed DFI''s Vision and Mission Statement:
"Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) works to ensure that Irish society is fully inclusive of people with disabilities and disabling conditions so that they can exercise fully their civil, social and human rights.
In pursuit of this vision:-
- DFI acts as an advocate for the voluntary disability sector
- Supports organisations to further enable people with disabilities
I would like to express my appreciation to the National Council, which met three times during the year, in February, May (AGM) and December.
Finally I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Board who have contributed to the governance of the organisation. I would also 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.