Every candidate in the Galway East and West constituencies were invited and welcome to attend. It is with thanks to the following candidates who gave their time and participation in discussing disability with us today: Noel Grealish, Niall Ó Tuathail , Catherine Connolly, John O’Mahony, Michael Cubbard, Derek Nolan,Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Fidelma Healy-Eames.
Key issues facing people with disability in Galway and actions that need to be made:
- The significant cost of disability which is estimated to be an additional €207 per week.[i] – Increase Disability Allowance by €20 to help support the income needs of people with disabilities and restore the budget for disability services to its former level prior to the recession, by increasing it by €50m each year from 2016 as an initial measure.
- The substantial cut of €136m that taken from essential disability services such as Personal Assistance Services, Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant since 2008, making everyday life extremely restrictive for many. – Meet the unmet need for the Personal Assistant service by increasing the budget by over €7 million each year from 2016 -2019, and increase Home Support Services by almost €10m each year. Invest in a Community Services and Self-Directed Living Supports Approach8 to make the current disability services programme ‘fit for purpose’.
- In 2016 children with disabilities are still being denied entrance to their local school because of the lack of supports, segregating them from their brothers, sisters and play-mates. – Publish a comprehensive strategy for equity of access to further education and training (FET) for people with disabilities by end of 2017. This strategy must establish systems, supports and outcome targets to ensure people with disabilities have equal opportunities to access and participate in mainstream FET courses.
- The lack of an accessible public transport service. If you use a wheelchair you have to give 24 hours’ notice to travel by train. Buses are inaccessible to many and there are fewer accessible taxis than before the recession. – Address the inaccessibility of public transport in rural areas and ensure that any new transport subsidy scheme provides for people with disabilities’ mobility needs, including those who would have been eligible for the Motorised Transport Grant and Mobility Allowance Schemes prior to their closure.
- The lack of ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). – Establish a Cabinet Minister for Disability Inclusion to drive and coordinate whole of government measures, including ratification and implementation of the UNCRPD;
Catherine Connolly speaking at Galway Access for All Hustings on Friday 12 February 2016.
Marian Maloney, Chair of Galway Centre for Independent Living and member of Access for All spoke at the event:
“We want the incoming government to treat us, people with disabilities, our families, friends and carers with respect. Give us our equality and our rights, do this by recognising our key points for action, starting with establishing a Cabinet Minister for Disability Inclusion”.
In conclusion, the Galway Access for all Group agreed to meet with the 5 successful elected representatives and hear on how they planned to implement their commitment to the rights of people with disabilities in Galway as given today.
Ends Actions identified here are named within the DFI Briefing Paper for Political Party Manifestos
For Election 2016 available here[i] Cullinan, Lyons & Nolan (2014). The Economics of Disability.