In a recent letter and submission to all political parties, contesting the forthcoming election, the Disability Federation of Ireland has highlighted the established fact, that 18.5% of Irish people experience some level of disability. DFI has asked the political parties to outline their plans for the disability sector in their election manifestos and respond to a series of questions by Tuesday 8th February.
John Dolan, Chief Executive of The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) said today,
"We need each political party to set out their commitments to people with disabilities and mental health needs, in their election manifesto, in keeping with the content and spirit of the highly regarded National Disability Strategy (NDS). We would then expect that this commitment in the relevant manifestos would transfer to the next Program for Government. The cut backs in recent years are hurting people with disabilities in their pockets and making it difficult for them to access the services they need."
In the communication with the political parties, John Dolan of the DFI emphasizes that,
"Disability is not a sectoral, but a societal issue and our elected representatives must take the lead to ensure that all can share and participate equally in Irish society. The NDS is Government taking on the ultimate responsibility, for the first time, for the support and inclusion of people with disabilities and their families. The gains made to date must be protected while advances also need to be made during the lifetime of the new Government. Progressing the NDS is an essential element of the infrastructure required to protect vulnerable people particularly throughout the recession"
DFI are now asking all political parties and individuals contesting the forthcoming election, to make the following commitments, either as part of an election manifesto or some other such public commitment by Tuesday 8th February 2011:
1. That your Party in Government will prioritize the ongoing support of people with disability and their families.
2. That your Party in Government will implement a plan to ensure advancement of the Strategy (NDS) throughout and beyond the recession.
3. That your Party in Government will ensure the protection of income supports along with necessary public and social services required by members of the public who are disabled.
4. That your Party in Government will support the self determination of people with disability by continuing to build the capacity of voluntary disability organizations.
5. That your Party in Government will support the appointment of a Minister with sole responsibility for advancing the NDS at a whole of government level.
DFI plan to publish the responses from the political parties, as received.