New Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration must work directly with Disabled People’s Organisations, not service providers

Full Ministerial position for disabled people sought for decades by disabled activists must deliver on key legislative and policy changes

Today (Monday 29th June) ILMI welcomed Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman in a role sought for over three decades to ensure that the rights of disabled people are discussed at a full ministerial level at cabinet. ILMI also welcomes that disability is placed in a department with a remit around equality away from discussions about health. 

“Having a full ministerial brief separated from a health dominated discussion that has pervaded for decades is welcome. We have campaigned for over thirty years for a minister outside of the Department of Health who can give attention to the rights of disabled people and not be overwhelmed by the lobbying of service providers for additional funding” said Des Kenny, ILMI chairperson. 

“It is imperative that the new minister brings his commitment to equality and inclusion to his new department. He needs to ensure that discussions on disability are framed by a strong analysis based on the social model of disability, recognizing that it is how society is structured that disables people, and our lack of participation and inclusion in society is not due to our impairments. We need the Minister to build a department that understands and works on the basis that  it is the barriers that exist in terms of attitudes, policy development, access or lack of supports that prevent us from participating in society as equals, with choice and control over our own lives” added Mr Kenny. 

“Ireland makes its first report to the UN committee on the Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) later this year. The UNCRPD makes specific references to State party commitments to ensure disabled people are effectively involved in all policy forums and the specific role of Disabled Person’s Organisations (DPO).  

A strong message from Minister O’Gorman about his intentions to discuss disabled people’s rights with DPOs as opposed to the disability service providers, and his intention to promote the social model of disability is a necessity and would send a very clear message about his intentions to ensure the inclusion of disabled people in a more equal Ireland. Our inclusion is often impeded by the charity model of disability in which service providers too often speak for us and go on to represent disability in emotive fundraising messages, undermining our abilities and rights to be consulted on policy formation impacting on our lives as individuals,” said Mr Kenny. 

ILMI is hopeful that the new Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration will fully commence and resource the Assisted Decision Making (capacity) Act and ensure that Ireland ratifies the Optional Protocol of the UNCRPD as well as working with ILMI and the Oireachtas to look at building a legislative right to Personal Assistance.