Fiona Duignan, Policy & Project Manager, Inclusion Ireland
Inclusion Ireland National Conference – Partnership Now!
Inclusion Ireland hosted its annual conference and AGM at the Radisson Blu, Limerick, on 10 May 2014. Over 150 delegates were in attendance and attended three workshops. The workshops were all facilitated or supported by Inclusion Ireland staff and focussed on the following topics: Self Advocacy, HSE Reform Programme which covered, Progressing Children’s Disability Services, New Directions and Congregated Settings and the final workshop was on Assisted Decision Making.
For the afternoon session all delegates came together to hear the following speakers: Minister Kathleen Lynch TD, Pat Healy (National Director of Social Care, HSE), Edel Shaw (Parent), John Hannigan (Incoming Chairperson of the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies), Brian Hayes and Adrian Noonan (Self Advocates).
Towards the end of the day the AGM took place. It was at this juncture that two members of the Board of Directors retired. Inclusion Ireland staff and Board wish to thank Ms Katherine O Leary and Ms Anne Gunning for their dedication and support not only to Inclusion Ireland, but also to people with an intellectual disability for their many years of service.
Inclusive education—yet children are denied SNA Support
The Department of Education and Skills have recently issued circular 0030/2014, the provisions of which have caused a lot of concern for parents and Inclusion Ireland. Inclusion Ireland believes that this circular does not foster inclusive education. Inclusion Ireland brought these concerns to the Department of Education at a meeting on 5 June. The Department of Education say that no child will be denied access to an SNA at primary or second level, where there is an identified need. Inclusion Ireland will closely monitor this situation.
Progressing disability services for children and young people
Inclusion Ireland has a staff and parent representative on the national group that coordinates this reform project in the HSE. This reform is about children having equal access to therapy services based upon their needs—not on where they live or their type of disability.
As this reform has been rolled out, a number of parents have informed Inclusion Ireland that they have experienced a severe reduction in the services their child receives. Some children in special schools have experienced a severe reduction in services. This is not good for the children or their families.
Inclusion Ireland has raised this issue at the national group. We hope that no other children experience such a reduction in service. If you have concerns about Progressing Disability Services contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Platform of Self-Advocates Conference – Stand Up Speak Out
The National Platform of Self-Advocates is an independent group of people with different needs from all over Ireland. This group have met many times over the past 18 months and they organised their first conference which took place in Croke Park on 29 May 2014. Over 180 self advocates attended the conference. Senator Katherine Zappone officially opened the conference. A presentation by People First Scotland gave great food for thought to all delegates.
Scotland is an independent organisation that is run by self-advocates for its members. People First Scotland work to change the following things:
1. The way people with learning difficulties see themselves
2. The way the world sees and thinks about people with learning difficulties
3. The law and policy as it affects people with learning difficulties
After lunch elections took place for the next term of the National Platform of Self-Advocates Steering Group. Each candidate gave a speech as to why they should be nominated. The newly elected members of the committee are from all across Ireland.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE & AGM —‘PARTNERSHIP NOW’
by Jean Spain
Inclusion Ireland National Conference was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Limerick on Saturday 10 May 2014, with the theme ‘Partnership Now’. The morning of the conference was taken up with workshops which were reported on during the afternoon session which also included speeches, presentations and the Annual General Meeting.
There were three workshops as follows:
■ Self-advocacy—‘Work as one. People with disabilities being more involved in the day- to-day running of services. This workshop was run by the Inclusion Ireland Self-Advocacy Committee.
■ Assisted decision-making (Capacity Bill) 2013—Who Decides? The workshop discussed the new capacity legislation to replace the Lunacy Regulations Act 1871, and the structures that will support people in making decisions.
■ HSE Reform Programme—day services and therapy supports for children and young people. This workshop dealt with the ongoing reform programmes such as Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People and New Directions, to see what they should look like and how parents and families will be involved.
Máirín McCartney, Chairperson of Inclusion Ireland, welcomed delegates at the afternoon session. Her opening speech was followed by Kathleen Lynch TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Disability Equality, Mental Health and Older People, who said that she was delighted to be at the Conference. The first conference she had attended as Minister had also been to Inclusion Ireland. Her commitments at that time—to publish the Capacity Bill, bring in the HIQA Standards for People with Disability in Residential Care, and publish a Value-for-Money Review—had all been fulfilled. Reports in the media showed that the HIQA Standards are beginning to make an impact.
Paddy Connolly, CEO of Inclusion Ireland, thanked the Minister for all her work for people with disabilities and he outlined Inclusion Ireland’s plans for making partnership work in Ireland.
Perspectives on Partnership:
■ Edel Shaw, parent and advocate, discussed what it was like as a parents with a child with a disability.
■ Brian Hayes and Dermot Lowndes, self advocates from Inclusion Ireland, outlined the work and plans of the advocacy group.
■ John Hannigan, Incoming Chairperson of the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and Managing Director of Sunbeam House Services, gave a presentation (via videolLink) about on-going funding difficulties and future plans.
■ Pat Healy, HSE National Director of Social Care, outlined the plans for the coming years, as part of the Department of Health reform programme. He is responsible for the delivery of services to older people and people with disabilities with a budget of 3 billion and 25,000 staff.
Presentation of awards
The Inclusion Ireland Advocacy Award for 2014 was presented to the Cope CIT Advocacy Workshop group—self advocates from the Cope Foundation who had taken part in workshops in partnership with the Cork Institute of Technology.
■ The Inclusion Ireland Media Award 2014 went to RTÉ for the documentary ‘Someone to love’, which discussed issues of intimacy and relationships for people with intellectual disabilities.
■ The John Ryan Award for 2014 was presented to Breda Purcell, who has worked for many years in Dochas (Hope for People with Autism) in Limerick, which provides services and support to people with autism and their parents
Inclusion Ireland AGM
During the organisation’s AGM, resolutions were passed on issues relating to education, the funding of sports clubs, parent-representation on the Citizens Information Board, the assisted decision-making Bill, and the setting-up of a Changing Places website.
■ Tom Healy, Galway, was inaugurated as the Chairperson of Inclusion Ireland for 2014-2015, and presented with the chain of office by outgoing chairperson Máirín McCartney.
(Copies of the presentations and speeches can be downloaded on www.inclusionireland.ie.)