ILMI call for investment in disabled people and not in the “Disability Industry”

Concern that the Disability Capacity Review has no mechanism to talk directly to disabled people about where resources need to be invested

Today (Friday 16th July) ILMI responded to the Department of Health “Disability Capacity Review to 2032: A Review of Disability Social Care Demand and Capacity Requirements up to 2032”. 

“It is remarkable that an analysis of proposed State investment in our lives for the next ten years at no point engaged with disabled people about what we want or need. It is welcomed that the Department finally recognises the huge un-met need in terms of Personal Assistance Services, which is something that disabled people want. But the proposed investment for day services and residential settings are contrary to disabled people being included in all aspects of social, educational, cultural and economic life as per our obligations under the UNCRPD. The Capacity Review is based on continuing to invest in the “Disability Industry” which will perpetuate a situation where many disabled people are segregated from the society” said Des Kenny, ILMI chairperson.

ILMI is a cross-impairment Disabled Persons Organisation. Our vision is an Ireland where disabled persons have freedom, choice and control over all aspects of their lives and can fully participate in an inclusive society as equals. The provision of many disability services are diametrically opposed to inclusion.

“We know that many segregated services (residential centres, day centres) which were established in the past were done so by non-disabled people to keep disabled “safe”, to “look after” disabled people. What they have done in effect is keep disabled people out of society. They have ostracised us and they have acted in a way that has denied mainstream services and indeed Irish society from changing to become inclusive” said Selina Bonnie, ILMI Vice Chair. 

“For example, disabled people who should be accessing accredited learning provided by their local Education and Training Board are often directed to access learning solely with other disabled people through “special” day centres. Not only does this infringe on disabled people’s rights to access the education of their choosing it also prevents spaces for disabled and non-disabled people to share as equals and ultimately build an inclusive society” she said. 

“The Disability Capacity Review shows us that it costs €25,000 per year per person to fund day services. Why not give that money directly to disabled people through a personalized budget and allow us to decide what to do, and when to do it? The “Disability Industry” and the services they provide are based on the premise that non-disabled people know best and need to make decisions on what disabled people want are not and can never be inclusive” said Des Kenny. 

“It is not just that “activities” that take place in day services should be controlled by disabled people, disabled people need fundamentally in control of the “disability industry” so we can decide whether it is appropriate to have spaces that segregate us and separate us from our non-disabled peers; or whether those resources that finance separate services would be better used in providing disabled people with the resources we need to participate in society as equals” added Mr Kenny. 

“Ireland is bound under the UNCRPD to support the inclusion of disabled people in all aspects of life. Yet the Disability Capacity Review states that “Participation in day services is virtually lifelong”. How is that acceptable that disabled people are to be segregated into these services for their entire adult life? How is that compliant under UNCRPD?” said Mr Kenny.

“The commitment of Ministers Donnelly, O’Gorman and Rabbitte to ensuring there is strategic long-term investment is welcome. But they must ensure under article 4.3 of the UNCRPD and General Comment 7 to speak directly to Disabled People through their representative DPOs to ensure to invest in what disabled people want and need to participate in society as equals. The “Disability Industry” cannot be part of these discussions as they have vested interest in ensuring investment continues to support the Status Quo of exclusion and segregation” said Selina Bonnie.