Thursday, March 23, 2017
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guide to voting for people with intellectual disability

Dan Ryan
  • Dan Ryan is a member of the Service-User Forum in Sunbeam House.
  • In 2011, he helped make a video all about how to vote.
  • He thinks this is a very important issue and he wants many others to be empowered to vote.
  • The video was featured on Ireland AM on TV3.
  • It was also entered into a Canadian film festival where it won an ‘Honourable Mention’.

My name is Daniel Ryan. I attend Sunbeam House Services in Bray. In 2011, I made a video called ‘Your Power, Your Vote’. The video was about politicians and politics and voting. I talked about how important it is to vote. I also spoke about how to vote and when you need to vote.

I spoke to a few people about why we vote and how we can decide who to vote for. By asking candidates questions about what they are going to do for people with disabilities and for our local communities, we can then decide who we feel will best support people with disabilities and make changes in our community.

Barry-on-location-filming-your-power-your-vote Dan-on-location-presenting-your-power-your-vote

I also talked about how to register to vote. Mick Teehan supported me to check online to see if I was registered to vote. We checked the register online and I was not registered. I discussed on the video what I needed to do to put my name on the register.

On Polling Day, I went to my local polling station and handed in my polling card. I then cast my vote for who I think I can trust to deliver on what they have promised, and if elected that they will remember our community and will hopefully make a difference.

When making the video, I wanted people to know how important it is to vote and that people with a disability also need to get out and vote and their vote counts.

I also spoke on TV3’s Ireland AM about my video.  I spoke with Sinead Desmond and Mark Cagney.  My mentor Maura O’ Loughlin was also with me on the show.  I felt fantastic when I was on the show, and I felt it was a great opportunity for me, getting to experience being on the TV.

I had great help and support from my staff and friends in Sunbeam House Services.  The Service-User Forum was a huge help to me when I was making the video.

dan on tv3

Shortly after this we entered the video in a disability film festival in Canada and received an ‘Honourable Mention’.

GET OUT THERE AND START VOTING!!!

Author Bio

Daniel Ryan is a member of the Service-User Forum in Sunbeam House Services. He is actively involved in Disability Awareness and rights. He is a sharp young man with a positive outlook on life.

Mei Lin Yap takes the opportunity in her latest Frontline contribution to detail her likely doorstep questions for politicians in the upcoming General Election in early 2016.

  • If a politician called to your door, what would you say to them?
  • My name is Mei Lin Yap and I am a young woman with Down Syndrome. I WANT TO BE A CITIZEN, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER!!
  • I would like to be treated like any other citizen; I feel people with disabilities are not respected, valued, by our society.
  • Are you prepared to ensure equal access to education and employment for people with disabilities?
  • People with disabilities need equal access to education and employment. They can bring a range of skills, talents and abilities to the workplace.
  • When I look in the mirror I forget that I have a disability.
  • Everyone should feel valued in society. We need a voice.
  • NO MORE PROMISES. THE TIME IS NOW!!

If a politician called to your door, what would you say to them?

My name is Mei Lin Yap and I am a young woman with Down Syndrome. I WANT TO BE A CITIZEN, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER!!

I would like to be treated like any other citizen; I feel people with disabilities are not respected, valued, by our society.

Why has the government not ratified the UN Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities?

The Irish government agreed The Convention of Human Rights of People with Disabilities in 2008, but have not yet ratified it.  This is needed to protect our rights in law. We all should be valued by society. Everyone in the world deserves to be treated fairly and equally.

Are you prepared to ensure equal access to education and employment for people with disabilities?

People with disabilities need equal access to education and employment. They can bring a range of skills, talents and abilities to the workplace. However, support for both employers and employees with disabilities is essential if employment opportunities are to be successful.

When I look in the mirror I forget that I have a disability. Even though I am aware that I have Down Syndrome, and that affects my understanding, I know I have a lot to offer. I want equal access to education, employment and healthcare.

Everyone should feel valued in society. We need a voice. We don’t all need others to make decisions for us, but we may need support in making our own decisions. NO MORE PROMISES. THE TIME IS NOW!!

Author Bio

mei-lin-yapMei Lin Yap is a regular contributor to Frontline Magazine Ireland, with a keen interest in the rights of people with disabilities, particularly with regard to access to education and employment.

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The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, providing services to people with intellectual disability, has a number of key messages to all intending candidates for national elections:

  1. Throughout the years of economic austerity, people with intellectual disability have been disproportionately adversely affected as there has been little or no investment in the sector since 2008.
  1. In the period of economic recovery now being experienced in Ireland, it is imperative that we prioritise those who have been significantly disadvantaged.
  1. Significant unmet and changing needs exist for people with intellectual disability: Addressing these needs requires total political commitment and substantial investment.
  1. All mainstream national programmes such as the Social Housing Strategy 2020 and the action plan for jobs must identify a specific proportion of the budgets allocated to these programmes to meet the needs of people with intellectual disability.
  1. As a sector we are committed to the implementation of national disability policy and all statutory regulatory requirements. However implementation requires strong political will and substantial investment.
  1. We call on all political parties and election candidates to re-commit to the national disability strategy in their election manifestos.
  1. We call on all political parties and election candidates to commit to ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Three personal stories which reflect the impact of the austerity measures and under-investment on the lives of people with intellectual disability and their families over the period 2008 to date.

JOHN – 8-YEAR-OLD CHILD WITH COMPLEX NEEDS:

John is an 8-year-old boy from Cork. The needs of this child are very complex, including developmental issues, emotional and behavioural difficulties, sleep disturbance and medical issues.   The family have been under huge strain for a long period of time and are requesting additional support in the form of regular respite and 8-10 hours per week home support. It is difficult to access supports for children like John, due to reductions in respite, together with long waiting times for early intervention supports, and this is placing extra emotional and financial pressure on the family.

MICHAEL – YOUNG PERSON LEAVING SCHOOL:

My graduation ceremony was one of the best days of life.  My family, teacher and my best friends, celebrated with me this exciting move from my school days.   My teacher and particularly my two class helpers have always been there for me over the last number of years and with their help, and the help of my family, I have achieved a lot of things in my life that some people thought I could never achieve!  I have great difficulty communicating how I feel so I hope they know that I will really miss them a lot.

Change is exciting, but very difficult for me.  So, I and my family will need a lot of support as I set out on a “New Direction”. People have told me a lot of exciting things about New Directions and what it means – participating in my local community, further education, help with getting a job and developing my creative side. I love art. I’ll be just like Mam & Dad and big Sister – I’ll have a real role in my community and set my own goals for my life – who wouldn’t like that?

My sister was able to do a lot of these things on her own and with some help from her friends and our family, but I will need a lot more support. I need my own paid support workers to help me make my choices and do the things I need to do.  You see I have what some people call “intensive support needs”.  For me, this means that new situations really frighten me.  I find it very hard to be with people, to be friendly.  I don’t like to talk much.  I like routine.  I like familiar things, people and places.  I like a daily plan.  I don’t like noise.  I get very frustrated at times and can get angry.  I really don’t mean to upset or hurt people.  When it happens I also get upset and need help to calm down.   I need help to learn.  If I don’t have support workers, not for all the time, but for some of the time, I can’t begin to find my place in my community.  I’m afraid of what my future will be like if I don’t get the support I need.  Mam and Dad have fought all my life for everything for me and they still have to fight.  That’s not right or fair.  Like me, they are getting older.  I know that if I don’t get my support workers it will be difficult for me to stay living with my family. That frightens me.   Am I valued as an Irish citizen?  If so, why can’t I have the same opportunities as my Big Sis?

MARY – AN ADULT WHO REQUIRES A RESIDENTIAL PLACEMENT:

Mary is a 51 year old lady who has a diagnosis of Downs Syndrome and a moderate intellectual disability.  Mary is a very sociable lady who enjoys the company of others and attends a day service Monday to Friday.  Mary lives at home with her elderly mother aged 83 years.  Mary’s mother was diagnosed with early stage Dementia in 2012. Mary’s mother reported being concerned about her daughter’s future care in 2006.  Mary has 4 siblings, only one of whom lives in Dublin like Mary, however, none of her siblings are in a position to care for her. They believe a residential placement is the most suitable option for Mary.

Mary continues to live at home with her mum whose dementia and health have been steadily deteriorating, with a significant decline in 2014.  Mary’s mother has been struggling to support her daughter with personal care particularly in the morning, resulting in Mary often not being ready for the bus collection to her day service and therefore missing out on the opportunities and social outlet her day service affords her.

Mary and her mother benefit from the support of a home care package, respite breaks (which have significantly declined in the past 3 months due to the demand on resources) and a respite break with a host family one weekend every 3 months.  Given the deterioration of health needs of Mary’s mother, and Mary’s own increasing level of need, the support in place is still not adequate to maintain Mary safely at home.  Mary’s siblings have advised recently that their mother may need to go to a nursing home in the very near future and therefore the family urgently require a residential placement.

Reprinted by kind permission of the Federation of Voluntary Bodies

My journey to Brussels to the European Parliament supported by Cheeverstown House.

  • Promoting Independent Living
  • Person centred planning
  • Setting up networks of support
  • Supported decision making through the Person Centred Planning (PCP) process
  • Policy Recommendations

I travelled to the EU parliament in Brussels on November 17th 2015.  The conference was organised by Inclusion Europe and it concentrated on Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. The focus of the conference was on supporting people with an intellectual disability to live independent lives in their communities.

I listened to presentations by MEP Mr Richard Howitt about individuals and the transitions from institutional to community-based care, and successful community living for people with disabilities was discussed.

Using the person-centred planning process to plan a new life and circle of support for a life of your choosing was the key area speakers addressed. It was evident to me that participation of all citizens is a key element to create inclusive societies.

Countries represented at the conference included Spain, Croatia, Holland and The United Kingdom.

Self-advocates spoke on promoting independent living and supported decision making through the person-centred approaches.

The Conference also included the policy input of experts in the field and on good practices collected by partners in the New Path to Inclusion Network, a project in which Inclusion Europe has been involved for the past three years.

The New Paths to Inclusion Network is a European project bringing together organisations, service providers, universities and research centres from 13 European countries and Canada. Their overarching objective is to facilitate the development of inclusive and person-centred support services for persons with disabilities empowering them to lead self-determined lives within their communities.

I addressed the parliament and spoke proudly about working towards achieving my goal of living in my own apartment in 2016.

I made several networks and connections while in Brussels and took a lot of photos. I was extremely proud of myself and the success of the day at the parliament and look forward to visiting Brussels again.

Author Bio

joe-feehilythumbnailMy name is Joe Feehily. I am a 48-year-old gentleman. I am on my way to living in my own apartment and am supported by staff along this journey. I am a DJ, an employee and a volunteer.

I have many interests including wrestling, trips to the cinema, socialising and music. I also present my own radio show in Ballyfermot on West Dublin Access Radio.

I am getting ready to move to my own apartment near my family and friends and look forward to this in 2016

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As we approach General Election 2016, Máiríde Woods gives us her wish-list for improvements in services for people with disabilities in post-austerity Ireland.

It is the time for politicians to come knocking on our doors. But what will you ask them if they knock?
Here are a few thoughts:
  • More guaranteed funding for those with significant disabilities.
  • More quality places.
  • Prioritisation.
  • Better & faster support for families. 
  • Better support for frontline staff in terms of respect, pay and training.
  • Halt the over-bureaucratisation of disability services.
  • New employment & income support measures for “work ready” school leavers with disabilities.
  • No more baseless rhetoric, particularly in the change and rights area.

The season of politicians knocking on our doors is with us again. So – even if we don’t think they’re Santa Claus, what do we say to them about disability? Some things have changed for the better – people with disabilities are more visible and appear to have more rights, assistive technology is much better than it was. There’s more data. But many problems are intractably the same as twenty years ago when I was personally involved. Lists are in fashion at present, so here’s mine.

  1. More guaranteed funding for those with significant disabilities. It’s not all about money – but a lot of it is. Apart from the obvious effect on places, a climate of shortage makes any family with any sort of service hold on to it for fear of being left with nothing. People don’t ask themselves what they really want, rather they go for what they can get. Similarly, services hold on to the status quo because they fear having to provide more with less. Personalised budgets are the buzz-word in policy documents but mechanisms for assigning them to agencies, let alone allowing them to move with the person, are rare.
  2. More quality places. Not everyone agrees with this, but people with significant intellectual disabilities can’t flourish without input from both family and services. Getting a long-term suitable residential place for such a person in an emergency is still a struggle. Agencies say they cannot get immediate funding or sanction for extra staffing. Most of the people I know who have had to go into care are still in temporary arrangements up to two years later. This is unsatisfactory and worrying for both person and family. Emergencies are bound to occur. Why aren’t they planned for and funded?
  3. Prioritisation. Why is there such a reluctance, distaste, inability to prioritise in the disability area? Some things are more important than others, some people’s circumstances are much worse than those of others. Some settings are much more dismal and “congregated” than others. It isn’t possible to do everything desirable next year, so an orderly queue is necessary. Prioritisation also applies to standards – protection for a person’s basic rights is non-negotiable, but other standards need to be brought in gradually.
  4. Better & faster support for families. At least the respite grant is back, yet the possibility of respite is as uneven as it was 20 years ago. Families need greater support and respect. For many people with disabilities they are the vanguard of the famous “community” – the one that is there on a Saturday night when no-one else is. They need honesty and holidays and fewer long waiting lists!
  5. Better support for frontline staff in terms of respect, pay and training. Whether staff are P.A.s, nurses, care assistants, psychologists, they, like families, are the ones who make the greatest difference. In my experience most are dedicated, going much further than the extra mile.  Demonising staff because of the odd bad apple is unfair.
  6. Halt the over-bureaucratisation of disability services. While a level of policy and procedures is essential in any human service, the major expansion of bureaucracy attributable to demands from the HSE and HIQA makes an “ordinary normal life” in a service more difficult to achieve. It also makes it more difficult to set up and run a new service. Some degree of risk is unavoidable, whether you live at home or in a service. Innovations can easily be stifled by bureaucratic obligations.
  7. New employment & income support measures for “work ready” school leavers with disabilities. Existing measures haven’t succeeded in bringing young people with disabilities into mainstream work – more incentives for employers are needed to change things for the next generation.
  8. No more baseless rhetoric, particularly in the change and rights area. Woolly words about “systemic change” create needless anxiety, false expectations and irritation in old-timers like myself- In my experience, change for the better has to be done one person at a time and change that messes up the transition stage seldom succeeds. Rights talk needs to be specific, recognising the constraints faced by everyone – disabled and non-disabled – in exercising their rights.
  9. Less bright-siding, more Plan B strategies. Most people with disabilities seek services because they cannot manage without them. Some make the great leap forward and lead so-called normal independent lives; but not all of them do all the time. Some stay at what the experts see as the transition stage; some regress as they get older or develop further disability. Early re-assessment and increased support should be available promptly.

Author Bio

Mairide Woods is a writer, editor and social researcher. She is a lecturer at UCD Centre for Disability Studies, and is a former Board member at Frontline Ireland Magazine.

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We sought submissions from candidates in the forthcoming elections, to state what they or their party will do for people with disabilities if elected to government. Deputy Sean Fleming TD, Fianna Fáil, replied stating his party’s intentions…

Deputy Séan Fleming from Fianna Fáil has a strong record on enhancing and promoting the rights of people with disabilities.  During our time in Government, there was a dramatic change in terms of legislation, planning, specialist service provision and access to mainstream services and activities for people with disabilities. To that end, the first National Disability Strategy was developed and commenced. The Strategy set out a comprehensive package of legislation, policies and targets. In addition, thousands of day, residential and respite care places were created and a mandatory quota for the employment of people with disabilities in public services was also put in place. These are just some examples of the progress we achieved in Government.

Unfortunately, over the course of the last 5 years much of the infrastructure required by people with disabilities to lead full and independent lives has been dismantled and people with disabilities have experienced substantial reductions to their income and services. The latest statistics from the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC) shows that the deprivation rate for those not at work due to illness or disability was 51.3% in 2014. It is clear that significant changes need to be made to ensure that people with disabilities are able to live their lives as full and equal citizens, entitled to not only dignity and respect, but also independence, choice and control over their own lives. As a public representative I have witnessed first-hand the impact that a disability can have on the individual and their family. In the Dáil I have personally called for local authorities to include plans for people with disabilities in their county development plans.  Measures such as these can go a long way towards mainstreaming disability policy and bringing about effective change at a local level.

It is clear that reform is needed on many levels, not least in the area of early intervention. While it is proven that early intervention can lead to very positive outcomes, the current waiting lists for assessment and treatment for essential therapies is having a detrimental impact on the lives of children with disabilities. Fianna Fáil believes that this is an area that should be prioritised and will substantially increase the number of therapists and end the scandal of excessive waiting lists. We will also increase funding to hasten the process of moving people with disabilities from unsuitable and often demeaning institutions to communities. We will ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and reform the system to make it more responsive to the needs of people with disabilities.  These are just some of the measures that we will put in place. The legacy of our tenure in Government will be an Ireland in which people with disabilities have the services and resources that they require to live their lives as they see fit, and as independent, full and equal citizens.

Author Bio

Seán Fleming TD, Fianna Fáil.

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Senator Mary Moran, Seanad Spokesperson for Disability and Equality, outlines her focus regarding the concerns and requirements of people with intellectual disabilities.

During my five years as a Senator I have raised a whole host of issues concerning disability including access to mental health services; access to pre-school and early education, etc.
I have focused on three key areas:
  • Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013;
  • Comprehensive Employment Strategy;
  • improving local disability services.
Equal opportunity in education and employment for all is a point I talk about every day with the government.
My son turned eighteen in October, which means he now leaves children’s disability services and goes into adult disability services. Like many parents, I fight for my child and work to see that he receives everything he needs. Change is never easy.

Since entering Seanad Éireann in 2011, I have committed myself to raising the concerns and highlighting the issues expressed by individuals and groups advocating on behalf of those with an intellectual disability and their families.

During my five years as a Senator I have raised a whole host of issues concerning disability including access to mental health services; access to pre-school and early education; transition from children’s services to adult services; residential care; respite care; continuity of care; advocacy services; appropriate funding and resources; equal employment opportunities; and not least of all upholding the respect and dignity of people with an intellectual disability within our legislation and in all settings and situations.

As Seanad Spokesperson for Disability and Equality, I have put in a focused effort on three key areas:

  • Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013;
  • Comprehensive Employment Strategy;
  • improving local disability services.

The ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a long-standing issue often discussed in the area of disability.  Over the last five years, I have worked to progress the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill, which is a major and complex piece of legislation that will assist in Ireland’s ratification of the convention.  I was delighted to take part in the historic debate on the Bill in the Seanad in recent weeks.  The Bill moves away from the archaic notions held in the past and finally brings forward words and actions that ensure equality and dignity.

The Bill will complete all stages prior to the dissolution of this Government and represents a major step forward.

Once the Bill is enacted our focus needs to shift to the swift and efficient implementation on the ground.  We need to ensure that the legislation works not just in theory but also in practice.  The monitoring of this legislation, once enacted, will be a significant priority for me and parallel to this, the early ratification of the UN Convention will be something I will continue to vigorously pursue.

Equal opportunity in education and employment for all citizens is a point I raise on a daily basis with Ministers and service providers, in the Education Committee and the Seanad.  I worked in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality, service providers and representative groups in seeing the Comprehensive Employment Strategy introduced in early October 2015.

The barriers to meaningful education, training and employment for people with intellectual disabilities have been flagged for some time.  The Comprehensive Employment Strategy sets real goals and targets to increase accessibility in the workforce and society overall.  Now that the strategy has been launched, I am committed to continuing engagement with the Department and various stakeholders so that people with a disability see tangible results going forward.

At a local level, I am acutely aware of the difficulties which exist for people with an intellectual disability.  My son turned eighteen in October, which means he now transitions out of the children’s disability services and into the local adult disability services.  My son is no different now then he was the day before his eighteenth birthday.  He still requires the same level of service received at seventeen years but it’s as though a switch has been flipped and everything is now different.  Truthfully, as a parent of a child with an intellectual disability, I worry for his future.

Like many parents, I fight for my child and work to see that he receives everything he needs.  We need to ensure that the transition from children’s services to adult services is seamless – not a fight.  This transition will always be somewhat difficult as change is never easy.

In my work as Seanad Spokesperson for Disability and Equality I have been working locally and with the Minister, to see that this transition is as easy as it can be and that a path and plan are in place for each individual long before the significant eighteenth birthday is celebrated.

Similarly, I have worked continuously to ensure that children with additional needs receive equal access to pre-school and early school education.

My work in these areas is ongoing and foremost in my mind.  While change is often not easy, however, since entering politics I have learnt that unfortunately it is often slow also. I am willing and ready to pursue improvements in the lives of people with a disability, and to continually keep striving for improvements in every aspect of their lives.  As a candidate standing in the next General Election, I once again stand on the platform of advocating on behalf of people with a disability and their families.

Author Bio

Senator Mary Moran, Seanad Éireann.

Historic Moment as Capacity Bill Passes All Stages in Seanad – Moran

The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 passed all stages in the Seanad on Tuesday, 15th December following many hours of debate over the last number of weeks.
‘The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Bill is one of the most important and complex pieces of legislation to pass through the Houses of the Oireachtas in many years.  
‘With the passing of this legislation in the Seanad we are now one step closer to ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  A goal which is foremost in my work and one in which I am striving to meet day in and day out.
‘I welcome that at long last the words lunatic and imbecile will be removed from our legislation as a result of the Bill and everyone will be afforded the respect they deserve and are entitled to in our statute books.
‘It is hoped that the Bill will be signed into law by President Higgins before the end of this year. I will then work to see the speedy implementation of the necessary framework so that this legislation may come into full force as soon as is practicable. 
‘The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Bill will make a direct impact on the lives of so many individuals across the country.  It has been my pleasure to work with my colleague, Minister Kathleen Lynch on this legislation along with parents,individuals and organisations including Inclusion Ireland.  
‘When I became a Senator I made a commitment to advocate on behalf of people with a disability and their families.  More then anything else I wanted to see this legislation pass so that individuals who may have decreased capacity at whatever stage of life may be provided for when necessary.  This is a historic and happy moment for everyone through the decades who has worked to see this legislation come to pass.’

Author Bio

Senator Mary Moran
Seanad Éireann
Leinster House
Kildare Street
Dublin 2

All the latest news from our friends at Inclusion Ireland.

Inclusion Ireland will be launching a comprehensive information pack for the upcoming General Election which will take place in early 2016.

Inclusion Ireland has already produced an Election Manifesto called ‘A Disability Manifesto for Equality and Human Rights – Intellectual disability issues for the 32nd Dáil.

This Manifesto includes information on the following: Advocacy Supports, Therapy Services; Inclusive Education Supports; Life-Long Education and Training; Direct Payments; Recognising the Cost of Disability; Assisted Decision-Making Supports; Disability Hate Crime; and Employment Opportunities.

In addition to this, the organisation has also collaborated with Down Syndrome Ireland and the Center for Independent Living on a manifesto called ‘A Manifesto for Community Inclusion’.

The final version of the collaborative Manifesto will include sections on the following: Ensuring Equal Rights; A Life in the Community; Right to an Adequate Income; Education; Services to Children; and Advocacy.

The finalised documents reflect the views of parents, members, persons with disabilities, advocates, self-advocates disability experts and practitioners.

Both documents have been circulated to in excess of 30,000 people in mid-2015 and recipients were asked to offer their feedback using social media, website, email, direct correspondence and focus groups. Both documents will be launched in early 2016.

In addition to these documents, Inclusion Ireland will be producing Election Q&A sheets, Fact Sheets, Guide to Voting documents and case studies from around the country.

Inclusion Ireland will also be updating the Easy Read Guide to Voting booklet which contains information on the following: Why Should I Vote; How Should I Vote; Are There Any Supports for Voters; Checklist; and Useful Contacts.

The Easy Read Guide to Voting can be downloaded from the following link: www.inclusionireland.ie/sites/default/files/attach/basic-page/512/updatedvotingbooklet2008.pdf

For updates information on Inclusion Ireland’s election information pack please follow this link: www.inclusionireland.ie/content/page/elections-2016

Inclusion Ireland send strong delegation to 4th National Summit in Croke Park
Inclusion Ireland sent a delegation of over 20 people – including family members and self-advocates – to the HSE’s 4th National Summit which is taking place in Croke Park on Wednesday, November 18th.

The Summit, which was called ‘Embedding Values in the Workplace and Safeguarding Vulnerable People in Residential Centres’, was attended by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch TD along with 250 delegates from statutory and voluntary service providers.

This was the fourth in a series of summits which provides a forum for people to feedback as well as hear of progress on implementation of the six-step programme of change across the HSE’s Social Care Services, which was established in the wake of the RTE Prime Time Investigations Unit programme about Aras Attracta care home in Swinford, Co Mayo.

The National Summit was opened by Minister Lynch and there was also a presentation and workshop from international disability advocate John Armstrong on Engaging People to Achieve Good Lives.

Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly also addressed the National Summit and spoke about the failure of the Government to deliver meaningful reform.

To read Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly’s Statement at the National Summit follow this link: www.inclusionireland.ie/content/news-items/1377/inclusion-ireland-send-strong-delegation-4th-national-summit-croke-park

Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly appears before Health Committee
Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly appeared before the Joint Committee on Health and Children to discuss Advocacy Services in Ireland on Thursday, November 26th.

Paddy delivered his opening statement in Session 1 along with presentations from SAGE manager Mervyn Taylor, Chairperson of the Citizens Information Board (CIB) Eileen Fitzgerald and Ombudsman Peter Tindall.

HSE Director General Tony O’Brien made his opening statement in Session 2 at 11.15am.

Inclusion Ireland submitted an Opening Statement and Written Submission to the Committee and outlined our position on the current system.

The current system can be summarised in a number of points:

  • There is urgent need for a broad spectrum of advocacy supports.
  • There are no national guidelines or standards for advocacy provision.
  • There is no national information campaign on the right to advocacy or how to access advocacy services.
  • There is a little or no coordination of advocacy services.
  • No funding exists for the development of a range of advocacy models.
  • Funding for patient advocacy services has been cut in recent years.

With this in mind, Inclusion Ireland has made a number of recommendations that it would like the Committee to consider:

  • Inclusion Ireland proposes the establishment of a National Advocacy Authority. This new body would have responsibility for coordination and oversight for all advocacy services to persons in receipt of public services. Working alongside the existing public bodies (HIQA, Citizens Information Board, Ombudsman, Children’s Ombudsman and the Irish Human Rights Equality Commission).
  • Inclusion Ireland recommends that such an authority would have responsibility for setting standards and developing codes of practice for advocacy services. Coordination and resourcing advocacy would be its remit.
  • Inclusion Ireland recommends that one of the first tasks of such an authority would be to develop a national strategy for advocacy. This strategy would include provision of a broad range of advocacy models.
  • Inclusion Ireland would recommend the introduction of a national signposting service under the aegis of the new body.

To read Inclusion Ireland’s Written Submission and Opening Statement follow this link: http://www.inclusionireland.ie/content/news-items/1379/inclusion-ireland-ceo-paddy-connolly-appears-health-committee

Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 is now in the final stages of the legislative process with enactment very much in sight and with it, the repeal of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871.

In recent weeks, the Bill was in the Dáil for the Report and Final Stages in October and then Senators engaged in a robust and energetic debate during the second stage in the Seanad on in early November.

The Bill now proceeds to the Report Stage in the coming weeks, and should it pass the Seanad on this day, it can be signed into law.

During the Report and Final Stages of the Bill, Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch told the Dail during that we were “now at the point where we need to do the business” and hoped that the legislation would be “in place before Christmas”.

Inclusion Ireland welcomes the recognition from Government of the urgent necessity for enactment.

The repeal of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act will begin the process of discharge for the two thousand adults currently under the Ward of Court System. There were 322 people made Ward of Court in 2014 alone, an increase on the previous year’s totals.

In particular, Inclusion Ireland welcomes the removal of ‘informal’ decision-making or ‘acts in good faith’. The existence of these provisions allowed an undermining of the support structures envisaged by the legislation.

Inclusion Ireland calls now for an expedient enactment and commencement of all aspects of the legislation so that people with intellectual disabilities and others whose decision-making capacity is called into question can avail of the support they need to articulate their decision-making on an individual basis.

For more information on the Assisted-Decision Bill please go to our dedicated webpage www.inclusionireland.ie/content/books/1363/assisted-decision-making-capacity-bill-2013-enactment-edges-closer

Making a Will event to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd


Inclusion Ireland is organising information sessions on Making a Will for persons with intellectual disabilities or support needs to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, December 3rd.

The information sessions will be taking place in Mason Hayes & Curran Solicitors, Barrow Street, Dublin 4 between 12.00pm-2.00pm.

This is an opportunity to meet a solicitor, talk about making a will and arrange to have the Will made in a follow-up meeting.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been commemorated since 1992 to promote awareness and mobilise support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development.

The theme for 2015 is ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities’.

To reserve your place, call Inclusion Ireland Training & Development Officer Sarah Lennon on (01) 855 9891 or email sarah@inclusionireland.ie.

For more information follow this link: www.inclusionireland.ie/content/event-notices/1374/making-will-event-mark-international-day-persons-disabilities-december