Our disabling society is a real issue

Posted on: 10th September, 2015

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

There are 68,400 people living in Cork today with a disability or chronic illness.  This represents 13 per cent of the entire population of our county. Nationally, one in every eight people in Ireland have a disability.  Disability is a community issue – it affects people of all ages and their families directly and indirectly. And when one considers that each and every person who is living with a disability is also a family member – a son, daughter, sibling, mother or father – it is clear that concerns relating to the lack of supports and services for people with disabilities encompasses a far larger percentage of Cork’s population. Alison Ryan, the Disability Federation of Ireland Support Officer for Co. Cork, gives us some insight into the concerns facing anyone with a disability.

A mistake that is often made is to define disability as an issue for ‘a sector’.  The reality is that disability should concern every one of us.  It is a key community issue that will affect nearly everyone at some stage in their life, especially as disability increases sharply with age. If the serious gaps that currently exist in service provision for people with disabilities in Cork are properly addressed, this will support our entire community and everybody will benefit.

The recession hit Ireland hard and it seriously impacted on people with disabilities. Since 2008, there has been a steady erosion of services and supports for people with disabilities. As a result, people with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty than others.

The most recent Survey on Income and Living Conditions in Ireland found that over 53 per cent of people who were not at work due to disability or illness experienced enforced deprivation. For everyone who cares about living in a fair society such facts are a cause for grave concern.

As Ireland now enters into a critical stage in our economic recovery, it is vital that people with disabilities and their families are not left behind. The recovery needs to be fair and it needs to deliberately give a lift to those who have been left behind by the downturn.

The Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, recently confirmed that he has almost €1.5 billion available for tax cuts and spending increases in the forthcoming Budget.  Now that there is funding available, it has to be invested in those who need it most. There is a pressing need to ensure that community supports and an accessible health infrastructure are prioritised in order to allow people with disabilities to live independently alongside their family and neighbours.

It is a sad reality of our modern republic that people with disabilities are every day facing serious barriers to their full inclusion and participation in our society. This is unfair, this is unjust and this has to be fully addressed to make our nation more equal. Budget 2016 provides the Government with a real opportunity in this regard.

Services for people with disabilities have been historically underfunded in Ireland, making the cuts implemented during the recession all the more devastating. Access to services, such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, personal assistants and other key supports are now totally insufficient.  Furthermore, people with disabilities are not entitled to participate in many employment and activation programmes and are, therefore, further excluded from the labour market.

In its budgetary submission, the Disability Federation of Ireland has identified a number of core actions, which it is calling on Government to now achieve, including: Increasing disability payments by €20 per week, as an interim measure, to offset the cost of disability; Restoring the respite care grant to pre-austerity levels by increasing it by €325 per annum; Increasing the Housing Adaptation Grant by €30 million to support people with disabilities currently living in communities; Cutting waiting lists for specialist and mainstream health services by 50 per cent by 2017; Increasing the disability health budget by €50 million each year for the next three years.

As this Dáil fast approaches its final budget before a General Election, it is important that all shades of political opinion reflect on the following question: ‘What will be the Disability legacy of this Government?’

People with disabilities and their families have been given lots of promises in the past. But what is now needed is concrete action.  We need to hear and see fully funded plans from Government in this Budget. The outcomes of these plans need to be experienced by the people across the length and breadth of Co. Cork.

There can be no recovery without us. The provision of the necessary supports and services which enable people with disabilities to live as equal citizens in their own communities must be a budgetary priority.

Latest News Articles:

Global Shares to create 80 new jobs
Ford 100 Fest on Ford family farm to mark 100 years of Ford in Ireland
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival launches delectable programme
Healing with a harp
Plan the perfect wedding day at the Fota Island Resort Wedding Forum
Clutching at straws for Coalition
Lee’s and Nils: West Cork clubs in the city
The walk of a lifetime
West Cork farmers take gold at National Farmer of the Year Awards
Shining success for Union Hall Centra store at 2017 Quality Awards

Join us on Facebook

This year Wild Atlantic Tag sponsored by Marine Harvest will take place in Adrigole on Saturday August 5th. All are welcome, whether you are a team entry or an individual looking to join a team. The teams will be divided into two sections, Social & Seriously Social! Please contact Sean (0879568363) or Joey (0879865827) to register. It promises to be great craic with plenty of refreshments available pre and post-match! Fantastic local musician Eoghan McEllhenny will entertain the rugby masses from 4.30pm followed by Peadar O’Callaghan and renowned Natural Gas will round off the night from 9.30pm! ... See MoreSee Less

14th July, 2017  ·  

A woodland walk will take place on the 22nd June at 7pm in Glengarriff Nature Reserve. This is a great opportunity to learn about woodlands, their plants and wildlife and is an opportunity not to be missed. Glengarriff Nature Reserve was designated as a Nature reserve in 1991, and covers over 300 acres in size. It is a beautiful and unique woodlands containing many different habitats and is owned and managed by NPWS primarily for conservation and amenity purposes. The event is led by National Parks Ranger Clare Heardman and has been organised by Cork Nature Network For further information please contact events@corknaturenetwork.ie ... See MoreSee Less

19th June, 2017  ·  

Union Hall lifeboat Station are looking for a volunteer lifeboat training coordinator. See poster for details. ... See MoreSee Less

13th June, 2017  ·  

Jump to: