It’s April, and the overcoat is off (not the jacket, just the overcoat, thanks). Welcome to the Leadership issue of Frontline.
More and more, people are taking to public locations and services to make their voice heard where it matters. Joanne O’Riordan’s eloquent and lucid highlighting of life for a person living with disability as we approach the 3rd decade of the 21st Century is well known. The resounding success of her campaign’s Ratify the UNCRPD demonstration on the 30th March 2017 will, in the short term at least, be the fact that the strong, articulate voice of people with disabilities is taking its rightful place, at the vanguard of the drive for equality of rights and services. The torch so vigorously carried by such warriors as Martin Naughton, his tireless team and countless others over the years will not be quenched any time soon.
We can only hope right now that the tide of opinion rises similarly in the corridors of power to bring meaningful change in the provision of directed, individualised services for those people who need it to realise an active, fulfilled life.
This should not result in (as is feared by many who need services for themselves or their loved ones with disabilities) the reduction in existing services (e.g. congregate setting services) in order to provide for individualised services which are viewed as being more expensive to deliver. That may be where the real pressure needs to be applied for the people who manage the national purse.
So, it’s April. The Sun is out, the trees and bushes are budding, birds are nesting and you can hear it. The daffodils have taken on veteran status by this time of year. They took the lead in early March, you see, and Spring is following that example by turning up in full bloom. By mid-May, we will be once again in the midst of the verdant flush of the Irish Summer. If last year is anything to go by, our 40 rich shades of green should be even lusher this time around.
Leadership that directly improves the lives and living conditions of people with disabilities has never been in greater demand than in early 2017. And never has it been in better supply than in Irish Intellectual Disability Services. The difference now is that the empowerment of people in general to take an active role in their own self-determination has brought injustice and particular needs into focus. Where improvements are needed for people with disabilities, it’s not just their family members, friends and representatives that are trumpeting their cause – they are doing it for themselves.
This issue of Frontline Magazine Ireland will examine the nature of leadership, the necessity of making leadership work for service users, and the power of people with disabilities advocating for their own services and rights. We’ll see the benefit of people in politics being in more direct contact with disabilities themselves, and the simple yet positive potential of complaint! The need for modern leadership to provide operational plans, achievable targets and systems governance to effect the best outcomes for people dealing with disability in their daily lives will be detailed. We’ll reflect on the ability of the jurisdiction of the courts system to influence the basic freedoms available to all people in a description of one particular case, while the significance of the remembrance ritual for all people is the subject of a comprehensive item.
Above all, this April, let’s Spring Forward – there will be plenty of time to Fall Back later in the year.