January 2015 Newsletter
Issued on January 15 2015
Like many of you reading this, I found the footage from Áras Attracta on Prime Time on the 9 th December distressing and shocking, and I woke up the next morning feeling distinctly hung over. It is appalling that someone could behave in that manner towards another human being. There was a lot of talk about lack of training and poor inspection processed, but the issue goes much further than that. This is about basic respect for another person, and acting towards others in a way that is respectful and dignified. No amount of training could ever solve that!
People with disabilities and their families around the country who are accessing disability services will undoubtedly feel concerned and anxious by what they saw, and by the revelations that have come after. It is unacceptable that some people in residential services have been living in and subjected to these conditions. People with disabilities, regardless of their health condition or where their place of residence may be, are entitled to high quality services, where those charged with supporting them are not the source of fear or hurt to them.
Going beyond what we saw, we consider the societal wide implications as, possibly for the first time, we are confronted with the reality that our governance systems and organisational culture are not sufficiently strong to protect the basic rights to bodily integrity and simple human respect for others. We need stronger and more potent means of being able to hear and listen to what people with disabilities are experiencing in their own environments. People with disabilities need to be respected and supported to flourish throughout their lives in what I would like to see as "the best little country in the world" for people with disabilities to live their lives.
Minister Howlin has just stated that engagement will start in the latter part of this year with public service unions in relation to pay. The question for 600,000 people with disabilities and their families is, will the political parties and groups regard disability as a major and long standing issue for Ireland to deliver on as they position and plan for the general election.