Disability Federation of Ireland Newsletter August 2009
Issued on August 1 2009
Government has repeatedly confirmed its commitment to people with disabilities. The Programme for Government 2007 states that “This Government is determined to continue to prioritise the interests of people with disabilities over the next five years, through a series of significant measures”.
There is no denying that we are in challenging times and that difficult decisions do need to be made. Notwithstanding this, however, it is important that Government makes clear through its decision making that it acknowledges and remains steadfast in its commitment to protecting those who are most vulnerable against the worst effects of the recession. The harsh reality is that people with disabilities continue to experience substantial unmet needs. Their capacity to survive repeated knocks is very limited.
Prior to the recession Government had recognised this. It had reiterated its commitment, and had commenced efforts to redress the disadvantage experienced by people with disabilities through such measures as a targeted multiannual funding programme. However, during the last two years any modest gains achieved through these efforts have been hugely eroded through repeated cuts to disability funding, amounting to over €80m in the area of disability and mental health for 2006-2008.
Now the report by “An Bord Snip Nua” proposes further drastic cuts to disability specific funding, and to health, social, educational and other services on which people with disabilities are also reliant. The cumulative effect of these cuts will have a long lasting impact on the day to day lives of people with disabilities. It is critical that decisions made in light of this Report, and in consideration of the forthcoming Budget, are fair and equitable and reflect the Governments responsibility to protect and enhance necessary public and social services for people with disabilities.