Our plan for Empowering People with Disabilities
Improve Health & Care Services
Individualised social care services are needed so that people with disabilities can live independently.
End Workplace Barriers
Doing away with blockages to enable disabled people to enter or remain within the paid workforce.
Ensure Full Rights
The UNCRPD and its Optional Protocol must be in force in Ireland so that people with disabilities can realise their full rights.
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Ensuring Full Rights for People with Disabilities
How can we empower people with disabilities?
Nowhere is our two-tier society more acutely felt than among people with disabilities. At the last Census count (2016), 13.5% or 643,131 people in Ireland had a disability. This group are at significantly greater risk than non-disabled people of experiencing poverty, social exclusion, unemployment and lack of opportunity for education, training and retraining.
In 2006, the United Nations agreed on global action in the form of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ireland took a leadership position when it signed the Convention on the first day possible in 2007 but the State has regressed in the intervening years.
In 2018 Ireland became the last EU country to ratify the UNCRPD. While this is welcome in itself and long over-due, it has had little effect yet on the actual lives of people with disabilities as so much of our national legislation remains out of sync with the Convention.
In addition, the Government did not ratify the optional protocol to the Treaty. This protocol makes a huge difference to disability rights as without it the Government is not answerable to the UN nor subject to possible inquiries by it.
Without the missing legislation and a means to enforce the rights within the Convention, it will mean that disability rights in Ireland will still depend on who is in Government and where we are in the economic cycle. Rights with such conditions are not really rights at all.
This is a very short-sighted approach as well as being unjust. Long term problems are being stored up which will impact negatively both on individual lives and on public spending in the future, especially where disabled children and young people are affected.
Ratify UNCPRD Optional Protocol
So the Social Democrats main objective in terms of Disability Policy is to have the UNCRPD and the protocol fully ratified and in force in Ireland
This will mean:
- Signing the Optional Protocol
- Passing legislation including the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 and new legislation on the Deprivation of Liberty
- The full commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 with the creation of a Decision Support Service (DSS) under the Mental Health Commission
- Having a clear action plan with budget lines and timelines for implementation, monitoring, reporting, enforcement and other follow up actions.
Empowering People with Disabilities in the Workplace
The SocDems are committed to ending barriers to disabled people entering or remaining within the paid workforce such as inadequate educational provision, continuing benefit traps, discriminatory access rules and attitudes.
Our proposals include:
- Ending barriers to disabled people entering or remaining within the paid work force such as inadequate educational provision, continuing benefit traps, discriminatory access rules and attitudes;
- Recognising the extra costs of living for disabled people and helping them to stay out of poverty through a specific cost of disability payment.
- The full commencement of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 and the Irish Sign Language Act 2017.
- Ensuring that the target of a minimum 6% employment rate for people with disabilities for public bodies is fully implemented and seeking to raise this target over time;
Improving Health & Social Care Services
- Improving personal assistant and other individualised social care services so that people with disabilities can live independently;
- Introducing a statutory right to Home Care;
- Vastly improving the number of and access to primary care health staff and rehabilitative staff as promised under Sláintecare;
- Amending rules so that more people can qualify for Carers’ supports.
Better Access to Public Transport
- Improve financial supports for disabled transport users and eliminate notice time for travelling for mobility-impaired customers who require assistance;
- Improve audio and visual alerts on transport services;
- Make our public and private transport system fully accessible – in terms of fleet, stops, platforms and other access points;
- Change tendering rules to encourage much greater availability of wheelchair accessible taxis;
- Improving Road Traffic laws to ensure easier enforcement of parking rules for disabled parking bays.