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.

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
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7th September, 2017  ·  

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