Next year is a key year for all of us who advocate daily for basic human rights for people with disabilities.2024 is a important year for people with disabilities who have a daily battle to receive supports and services .The European and Local Elections are to take place and the time has arrive for candidates to come forward and to run in these elections either as a independent candidate or as a candidate from a political party .
The time has indeed arrived for people with disabilities and carers and all involved in the sector to look at getting themselves involved in the political process and start to change this society for the better.
The need to organise and develop our own voice is now vital ,we have seen many so called ” Disability Stakeholder Organisations ‘ rush out statements welcoming the budget and various issues contained therein , the projected inflation rate will wipe out the €12 a week offered to people with disabilities and carers in 2023 The €500 once off payment was an insult as carers demand a non means tested living wage with pension benefits .
It is clear that most of these so called ” Disability Stakeholders Organisations “ are compromised by the very fact that the State is funding their activities to the tune of nearly 100% .
Carers are saving the Irish State €20 Billion a year and number over 500,000 people with 650,000 people with disabilities in Ireland ,this brings the total to 1.1 million and we need to get organised and to start getting involved in the political system in whatever way you prefer , within a political party or independently .
For its part the State must start to deal with the barriers to participation in the democratic process .
A recent review presented to the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters pointed out some of the barriers to accessible voting for people with disabilities with disabled people facing many barriers to candidature including,
. Extra Costs of disability
. Accessibility barriers including unavailability of sign Language interpreters or PAs ,inaccessible meeting venues ,information ,transport etc
. Failure of political parties to select disabled candidates
.Lack of supports for disabled people to engage with local government .
We support the call for all political parties to undertake a cross-party pledge to promote and support the election of disabled candidates and carers with reasonable accommodation be provided for disabled electoral candidates to remove accessibility barriers .
At local Government level ,councils must support people with disabilities to participate in the democratic process so facilitate their active citizenship.
We cannot allow a repeat of the situation that happened in Budget 2023 and the discrimination that takes place in Ireland to continue ,we must prevent the treatment we all received at the hands of the Irish State and the HSE during COVID 19 when we where abandoned and told to deal with critical situations ourselves as we watched specialists staff snapped up to work on HSE swabbing and contact tracing work.
Carers and people with disabilities must get involved in the democratic system and create a strong voice that will deliver our aims and objectives .