Holly Cairns TD, the Social Democrats spokesperson on Disability Matters, has backed a cross-party motion calling for the full reopening of support services for people with disabilities.

Holly said:

“This motion highlights underlying issues in the sector and the need for a rights-based approach to ensure sustainable capacity within disability services.

“It is fair to say that people with disabilities are most profoundly impacted by the pandemic. Before Covid-19 they were more likely to experience discrimination; were three times more likely to be in poverty and deprivation; and Ireland has the lowest employment rate for people with disabilities in the EU.

“These issues have been worsened by the pandemic and the inadequate Government response to date.

“Day services carry out fantastic work but they have been operating at reduced capacity due to social distancing and other restrictions. The closure of services has resulted in regression, isolation and distress for people with disabilities, as well as additional hardships and a lack of respite for their families and carers.

“There are almost 3,000 people with disabilities residing in settings of ten or more people, which is against their rights under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This cohort have been put at unnecessary risk by the State during the pandemic due to their living arrangements.

“Before Covid-19, people with disabilities faced immeasurable hurdles which have been magnified during the pandemic. Our challenge is to immediately respond to these issues.

“This sector needs the resources so it can offer a range of supports that enable all people with disabilities to live dignified, independent lives.

“The cross-party motion initiated by Sinn Féin rightly calls for funding to fully reopen day and other essential disability services and to guarantee sustainable capacity within disability and dementia services.

“This is in response to calls from people with disabilities. They are the experts so we must listen to them.

“The Government prioritised the reopening of schools and colleges in its roadmaps and Living with Covid plan – it needs to do the same for people with disabilities.

“Almost 70 TDs from the Opposition benches have signed this motion. TDs from across the political spectrum might not agree on many things, but they are united on this issue.

“People with disabilities and their families deserve more – but, crucially, they are entitled to more.”

October 7, 2020

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