This year’s cneasta Conference, held in the Two Mile Inn in Limerick on 20th and 21st October, coincided with the first two days of the nurses’ strike. This was unfortunate as it meant that Cneasta chairperson, Mary Lucey, was unable to attend the conference, which proved to be lively and thought provoking. Presentations from the establishment group of the NDA and the Department of Health and Children gave some interesting pointers to services in the future. Margaret Kelly (Department of Health and Children) acknowledged that consultations with representatives from cneasta on the contents of the recent Green Paper on Adult Education had been valuable.
Three very different and successful Horizon projects—Donegal Cheese from the North Western Health Board, Links Co-op from the Southern Health Board and Telesupport from Eve Holdings—gave examples of new and innovative services recently developed.
The opening presentations on day two of the conference, by Joe Mooney of Independent Living Community Services and Rita Kwiotek of the Forum of People with Disabilities, stressed that the Celtic Tiger had not yet arrived for people with disabilities. The parallel sessions provided something of interest to all delegates, covering topical subjects ranging from the Freedom of Information Act, the FÁS Positive Action for Disability Project, Centre of Excellence Accreditation, the role of partnerships, and personal outcomes measures. Plenty of lively debate took place on Thursday afternoon when the open-agenda session gave participants a chance to contribute their ideas on issues that cneasta might address in the future. A priority list of suggestions was established which will be taken into consideration by the new cneasta executive. This should ensure that cneasta continues to play an active role both in highlighting relevant issues and in keeping its members informed of current developments in the sector.