Newsletter July / August 2013
Issued on August 30 2013
In the final Prime Time debate before the General Election in 2011, both Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny stated that, if they were in government, they would prioritise people with disabilities as their number one social justice issue. Two years later, it is fair to say that the Government has not lived up to this commitment.
People with disabilities have been hit hard over the past number of years. Government has shown a complete lack of understanding of the challenges facing people with disabilities in trying to live an ordinary life, consistently chipping away at vital services and supports.
2012 saw one of the harshest years for people with disabilities. Key budget plans in health failed to materialize, deficits rose, and major cuts to disability services were announced by the Department of Health. Meanwhile, funding for mental health and other disability services was transferred to other parts of the health system which had incurred significant deficits.
2013 has not been any easier. The changes to the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant dealt a further blow to people with disabilities, along with the cuts to special needs assistance, respite care grants and housing adaptation grants, and the fact that there are now not enough day places for school-leavers with intellectual disabilities.
However, as well as being affected by these cuts to disability-specific supports, people with disabilities are also substantially impacted by cutbacks to mainstream social and health services which they need to access. This is an unfair double hit, a major issue which cannot be ignored.
It is unacceptable that people with disabilities have to fight for the services and support they are entitled to. After five years of austerity, the Government now needs to act on the commitment it made to the disability movement, by putting plans in place to begin the restoration of these supports, and working in close partnership with disability and other organisations to make the full inclusion of people with disabilities a reality.
John Dolan, CEO