John O'Sullivan speech Mansion House Pre-budget 2012

Issued on October 5 2011

John O'Sullivan speech Mansion House Pre-budget 2012

John O'Sullivan's speech Mansion House Pre-budget 2012

DFI Pre-Budget Submission Launch 2012, Dublin, 5th October, 2011

John O’Sullivan, Vice Chairperson, Disability Federation of Ireland

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I would like to warmly welcome everyone to the launch of the DFI Pre-Budget Submission 2012. I especially welcome people with disabilities who have travelled here today along with representatives from their organisations, as well as Minister Kathleen Lynch and Political Party spokespersons.

Since we met here on 14 th October 2010, we have the reality of the IMF bailout, the change in Government and so many new members in the Oireachtas. We recognise the considerable challenges facing this Government in creating a sustainable economy while also protecting the rights of vulnerable people in our society, in other words, ensuring that there are enough services and supports for people with disabilities to enable them to fully live life.

The National Disability Strategy brings the expectation that the Government is committed to advancing the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. We welcome the commitments to the National Disability Strategy implementation in the Programme for Government.

DFI along with nine other organisations recently called on Government to urgently put a plan in place to ensure implementation of the Strategy and to focus on the twin key areas of access to necessary services and income supports. We are fearful that the decisions being made by Government in relation to next year’s, and subsequent year’s, budgets and the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure will be made without full knowledge of how best to protect necessary services and the infrastructures that support them into the future.

We know that a disproportionate number of people with disabilities continue to have lower incomes and are in a lower social class. It is not surprising then that they are at greater risk of poverty, with twice as many disabled people experiencing consistent poverty compared with the general population. We also know that people with disabilities have a lower employment rate and are less likely to get out of the poverty trap. If we are not planning to improve the situation we are by default planning to let things get worse. That is our great fear.

The National Disability Strategy provides a framework in which these needs can be addressed and improved. Of course the successful delivery of the NDS cannot be achieved without the support of, and collaboration from, voluntary disability organisations. We have a vital and important role to play in this process. DFI, working with the Disability Stakeholders Group and others, is keen to do whatever it can. DFI has the support of its membership to find more cost effective and sustainable ways to ensure that people have the supports which they need to live life.

I want to take a moment or two to specifically set out some of the key developments in DFI over the past decade or so which demonstrates our long standing commitment to change and reform most importantly our commitment to do that starting with our own organisation and movement:

  • We successfully participated in the Social Partnership structure to ensure that the voice of people with disabilities was heard and we have the disability lifecycle as a result of that.
  • We have pioneered and developed a concentration on governance and strategic planning in organisations through our ‘Chairs as Effective Leaders’, Organisational Healthchecks, and the introduction of quality assurance system in organisations. (PQASSO)
  • In particular we have brought the policy implications of the National Disability Strategy objectives to bear on this work by also working with organisations to consider their strategic orientation.
  • We have pioneered work on collaboration with a series of papers and a conference “We Can’t Opt Out Of The Future” in ’07.
  • We have developed a range of structured working relationships with other organisations through entering into Memorandum of Understanding arrangements, sometimes with organisations within the disability spectrum, and other times beyond, with organisations such as The Wheel and the Carmichael Centre for Voluntary Groups.
  • We are now collaborating with the University of Limerick in relation to the development of a pilot course “Introduction to Quality Management for the Community and Voluntary Sector”.

As a result of the recession greater emphasis is being placed on good governance throughout the State. As you can see from the previous points, DFI has long since taken a lead role in this area in working with our membership.

Our new Strategic Plan recently agreed by our membership sets out our vision and mission.

“The vision of DFI is that Irish society is fully inclusive of people with disabilities and disabling conditions so that they can exercise their full civil, economic, social and human rights and that they are enabled to reach their full potential in life. DFI’s mission is to act as an advocate for the full and equal inclusion of people with disabilities and disabling conditions in all aspects of their lives”

The vision and mission along with the guiding principles, in that plan, set the work of DFI and of all its member organisations firmly within the context of person centred services that enhance the lives of people with disabilities in the community and we understand that person centeredness to involve putting people with disabilities more firmly at the centre of decision making.

This is the track record and orientation which we and our member organisations bring to this work and we place this commitment to change at the disposal of the Government in the substantive changes and reform agenda that needs to be dealt with.

Last year’s budget gave protection to the disability health area and it is well appreciated. The organisations and the HSE have delivered, more is being done with less while the demand is ever increasing. People with disabilities need further support. The social welfare cuts were very difficult for people and families across the country and they came on top of all the other cuts, ‘charges’ and ‘contributions’ that are required.

I hope that this launch will enable our organisations to convey the seriousness of the current situation facing people with disabilities and that the Government will assure us of it’s commitment in keeping disability a priority in Budget 2012 and beyond.

I would now like to welcome the Chief Executive of DFI John Dolan who will say a few words and outline the format of the event.

Thank you