Inclusion Ireland, the National Association for People with an Intellectual Disability, has today (14/07/2017) welcomed the publication of the Government’s National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) but says that the policy document is short on vision and doesn’t go far enough to address the inequality that exists for people with disabilities in our society.
The National Disability Inclusion Strategy comes two years after the expiration of the most recent strategy for what is now regarded as a failed National Disability Strategy.
The new strategy aims to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities and reacting to today’s launch, Paddy Connolly, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, said, “Real inclusion is about people being visible, taking part and being involved, this new strategy does not deliver that. There has been a two year gap since the previous strategy ended and not a single measure was fully implemented.”
At a speech delivered during the launch of the strategy there was no mention of the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), despite the first action in the strategy being to remove all obstacles to ratification.
"The silence on the UNCRPD speaks volumes. The Minister claims to be committed to the ratification of this seriously important international agreement but again has kicked it into the long grass to the detriment of people with disabilities in Ireland. If we, as a nation, are serious about allowing people with disabilities to have equal status in Ireland, we must move forward with the ratification process post-haste. If the Minister is really committed to delivering reform for people with disabilities, then action is needed now because we could be facing a period of political uncertainty over the next year."
Mr Connolly said, "Sadly, this strategy amounts to nothing more than a long-drawn-out missed opportunity. Other important objectives relating to decision-making, education, housing, supports to live independently and wellbeing addressing poverty, give either scant reference or are watered down versions of the previous strategy."
The national rights-based advocacy organisation acknowledges the positive nature of measures to develop and roll out a ‘reform and culture change programme’ but that these actions are to be delivered through the HSE and disability service-providers shows a narrow mindset, it is crucial that culture change is driven by the appropriate stakeholders.
Paddy Connolly said, “I would question whether disability service providers are best placed to navigate this cultural shift when such organisations have played a significant role in the segregation of people with disabilities. Disability proofing needs to be at the core of all considerations and the responsibility of all Departments, relevant agencies, public bodies in addition to private enterprise.”
Probably the most disappointing omission relates to advocacy other than relating to mental health. The National Advocacy Service provides a representative advocacy service to people with disabilities. However, this organisation does not equate to the Personal Advocacy Service that the previous strategy envisaged as advocates do not have statutory powers and long waiting lists exist around the country.
Paddy Connolly said, “If we were disappointed by the watered down advocacy service in the previous strategy, the absence of any mention of advocacy other than advocacy in respect of an individual's mental health in the NDIS is a scandal. Advocacy is a key element to inclusion for people who need support accessing their rights and advocacy services must be put on a statutory footing and a National Advocacy Authority established which would take overall responsibility for advocacy in all its guises and would be independent of Government”
Inclusion Ireland is the national association for people with an intellectual disability. We provide a central forum for our members to identify priorities and formulate nationally agreed policies to present to government, statutory bodies, other relevant groups as well as the general public. Inclusion Ireland campaigns for changes in services and legislation that will improve the quality of life and participation of people with an intellectual disability in Irish society. Inclusion Ireland also provide an information and advice service to people with an intellectual disability, their families and also to services that support people with an intellectual disability as well as students and others doing research in the sector etc
Nyle Lennon, Communications Officer, 01 855 9891