Disability Conference To Discuss Independent Living

A two-day conference on independent living opens in Dublin today with campaigners claiming the Government has failed to live up to a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled.

And Ireland’s 26 Centres for Independent Living (CIL’s) have joined forces to call on the new Government to urgently implement the National Disability Strategy.

They also want commitments made under article 19 of the UN Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities to be met.

The UN treaty adopted by Ireland in 2006 states that countries must recognise the equal rights of disabled people to have access to in-home, residential and community support services including personal assistance.

Eugene Callan, Dublin Centre for Independent Living, said demand was not being met.

“The challenge in today’s society is that state services and supports have not kept pace with demand,” he said.

“Many people are still forced to stay in residential institutions and in family homes when clearly they could take charge of their own lives if the services were put in place.”

The 26 Centres for Independent Living lobbies on behalf of almost 125,000 people with disabilities.

President Mary McAleese will open the conference this morning.

Finian McGrath, Independent TD for Dublin North Central, campaigned on disability issues, health and children in the recent election.

Mr McGrath said disability issues are top of his agenda.

“I can see that lack of provision of personal assistants for people with disabilities seriously curtails their access to housing, employment, transport, healthcare, education and training,” the TD said.

Recommendations from delegates will be sent to the new Government to assist them in implementing schemes to improve services and progress Independent Living in Ireland.

A number of international speakers have been invited to address the conference including Liz Carr, a disabled comedian from the UK and Sue Bott, Director of the National centre for Independent Living in the UK.