Independent Living Movement Ireland

UK Not Dead Yet

UK Not Dead Yet Speaking To ILMI From Before The Grave

Phil Friend – August 10th 2021

UK disabled activist Phil Friend will be ILMI’s first 2021 autumn-winter Zoom-Social-Evening guest speaker on Thursday 30th September at 7pm to 8pm. Phil will be chatting with ILMI’s Peter Kearns & Dr James Casey about his long involvement with the UK’s Not Dead Yet (NDY) social model movement established in  2006. Phil, James and Peter will also identify how the Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder of how disabled people are already denied life-saving support based on their impairments even before the possibility of new non-disabled championed Irish and UK medical suicide laws. 

With the UK Parliament seriously contemplating legalising Assisted Suicide and our Dáil seemingly fast tracking Gino Kenny’s Dying-With-Dignity Bill, Phil will be talking about how activism can effectively challenge how disabled people are routinely denied the resources and support to assist us in living with dignity and respect, as evident from ILMI’s current pro-active housing and PA campaigns. 

ILMI has also been pro-active in asking for Irish citizens to have some time-out for a detailed scrutiny of the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020. Fortunately, the Joint Committee on Justice has recommended that an Oireachtas Special Committee be established to undertake an examination on the topic of assisted dying which should report within a specific timeframe. Over 1,400 submissions were received by the Committee for the deadline in January 2021, this included ILMI’s detailed submission which called for the Dáil to actively liaise and communicate with disabled adults collective DPO concerns on the promotion of Assisted-Suicide agendas. 

Phil’s UK NDY Social Evening with ILMI will give Irish activists a chance to listen and query how the lived experience could possibly inform an Oireachtas Special Committee on future Assisted-Suicide laws and policy.

ILMI’s 30th Sept. evening 7pm Zoom will also be contemplating how during the recent hot summer of 2021, Phil and his activist compatriots released the statement proclaiming “We add our support to the growing number of disabled people’s organisations, both nationally and internationally, who oppose Assisted Suicide.  At a time in the UK when disabled people are recovering from the effects of the pandemic and facing massive cuts to social care support services and benefits, we need support to live, not assistance to die.” ILMI recognise that there is a range of views amongst disabled people as a whole on this issue, and like Not Dead Yet, we can see the argument for having a sensible, rational debate about assisted dying with the DPO voice strong and present at a future Oireachtas Special Committee.

Phil will be exploring how UK NDY is looking at how in every jurisdiction, where a form of assisted suicide has been legalised, the numbers dying have increased over time. UK NDY have pointed out that once assisted suicide becomes law in a state or country, Society is seeing to be endorsing it as an option, equal to that of life. Phil will be explaining at the Sept. 30th 7pm ILMI Zoom that he feels those who had never considered medical Assisted-Suicide will be told that it is a genuine option and their families, friends, health and social care professions will all know it as an option to be seriously considered.

UK NDY also suggest that such a possible positive ‘spin’ option will be in contrast to what is currently hard enough already for those with terminal illnesses and impairments to get the support services disabled adults require to live active, independent lives. As in Ireland, the COVID pandemic in the UK has made current limited options harder and bought into sharp focus the value society places on disabled adults. Phil and NDY have pointed out that 6 out of 10 COVID related UK deaths have been disabled people. NDY also simply state that no organisation of terminally ill or disabled people has sought a change in the law welcoming medical Assisted-Suicide.

Phil, and ILMI’s Peter and James, will be discussing how disabled people in the UK and Ireland wish to live – not to die. That means investment in palliative care, pragmatic solutions to social care provision and continued financial support for a world-class national health policy and practice in each country. UK NDY feel these are the issues British and Irish parliamentarians should be concentrating on, rather than the Pandora’s Box of assisted suicide which might help the few recently acquired-impairment socially isolated and ‘burden’ fixated, but at the expense of the many long term disabled adults who have respect and pride in their lived experiences.

Phil would also be delighted to answer questions about his lived experiences of being the current Chair of the UK Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC), Vice-Chair of the Activity Alliance formerly (EFDS) and a Vice President of the Level Playing Field, an Assessor for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Phil is also a former Commissioner on the Extra Costs Commission and former Chair of Disability Rights (UK). In 2001 Phil was honoured to be awarded an OBE for services to equal opportunities and disability, and in 2009 was presented with an Honorary Doctorate by Hertfordshire University for services to Equal Opportunities.

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