Disability Federation of Ireland Newsletter May 2009
Issued on May 1 2009
Before this recession there was a services crisis for people with disabilities – that is why there is a National Disability Strategy. Government must understand that Ireland does not only have a new unemployment crisis but that it already had a social services crisis for people with disabilities. Socially it must act to counter the crisis for people with disabilities putting in place urgently a plan to progress the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) during the recession. A plan which is built around three things. Firstly acknowledge that there are major service deficits currently for disabled people. Secondly, that mainstreaming of services and supports is the starting point and thirdly, that Government has a commitment in its Programme for Government to prioritise the interests of people with disabilities.
The NDS is a major whole of Government commitment. With the Government fully committed to the delivery of the NDS it is critical that a new five year implementation Plan is developed urgently that outlines clearly disability commitments and areas to be prioritised during the current difficult environment. Failing to do so will mean that the substantial gains achieved through the NDS to date will be eroded and Governments stated priority to disability will prove to be hollow. People with disabilities, their families and the organisations that support them will believe that, as in the 1980”s, they have again paid a disproportionate price in a time of economic recession.
Local authorities are key actors in the implementation of the National Disability Strategy, both because they manage services such as housing and community facilities, and because they can promote better inter-agency co-operation. The upcoming Local Elections provide us with an important opportunity both in terms of educating all candidates on their responsibilities to the people with disabilities and on our sector”s expectation that they will commit to the ongoing implementation of the NDS at local level, if elected.