The seminar "It’s our Space Too" was organised by Cavan Disability Network in conjunction with Breffni Integrated, Cavan County Council and Cavan Public Participation Network.
Playwright and activist, Rosaleen McDonagh, spoke about the extra difficulties of having a disability when living in a rural area when access to services and supports can be limited. Rosaleen also spoke about the challenges of recruiting personal assistants, how uneven the service can be and not knowing sometimes which staff may be coming to support you or if they will even be trained.
The conference also heard from speakers who told their personal stories of overcoming obstacles and having to reinvent themselves following an accident or illness which led to them having a disability – Chris McElligott, Marita Sharkey and Seamus McGrath
Workshops focused on personal budgets and the CRPD, which was delivered by Inclusion Ireland's Nóirín Clancy.
In the CRPD workshops, people looked at the articles of the CRPD and talked about what that would look like in everyday life:
- With the Government taking 11 years to ratify the CRPD what does this say about their lack of willingness to engage in human rights and how long will it take to fully implement the rights in the Convention - "it’s easy to ratify but implementation is the key".
- We need more positive role models in the media of disabled people to remove barriers and prejudices - e.g. Coronation Street at the moment.
- Right to work in the CRPD but employment opportunities/openings for disabled people are very poor, particularly in the hotel industry. While some companies do employ disabled people not all customers welcome it – seeing the disability, not the person. The Workplace Adaptation Grant of about €6,000 is insufficient to make substantial access changes that are required.
- Rural isolation is a big factor in disabled people not being able to get out socially and work because of the lack of transport and opportunities in rural areas.
- So few disabled people in politics – can name them on one hand, so the Dáil is not representative of the 13.5% of people that make up the disabled population of Ireland.
- Accessible information can sometimes be tokenistic e.g. At the All Ireland Final RTE showed the sign language interpreter for just a short while of the national anthem but didn't wait till it was completed.
- Only when rights are demanded will they be enjoyed and exercised. We need to inform ourselves of all of the rights in the CRPD.
- Government should have ratified the Optional Protocol as part of the CRPD so that people can make a complaint to the Committee.
- All agreed that we need to know the articles in the Convention, learn them off by heart so we can quote them, we all need to know the rights in the CRPD that the Government is now obliged to implement so we can quote them and use them.