People with disabilities want to send a “wake-up call” to government on Thursday by highlighting promises they say successive governments have broken in relation to supports for disabled people.
“We want to let them know that these promises haven’t been delivered, and we’re looking for answers as to why,” said Frank Larkin, activist and disability awareness and equality trainer, and an organiser of Thursday’s protest.
The protest, “Broken Promises: Disabled people fight back”, is planned for 12 noon to 4pm this Thursday, July 13th, at Leinster House. Friends and supporters of people with disabilities are also invited to take part.
In announcing the protest, organisers said, “We want to send a message to this government as they go off on holiday that many disabled people never get a holiday, due to poverty, poor supports and legislation stuck in the doldrums.”
They said delays in passing “crucial laws to improve our lives and scant notice of our suffering shows disrespect. It also shows we are being treated as second-class citizens.”
Among the broken promises protesters plan to highlight are the government’s failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which Ireland signed 10 years ago; the lack of new transport/mobility benefits after those benefits were cut in 2013; failure to implement in full Disability Act 2005; failure to deliver the needs-based personal care budgets that the Fine Gael 2011 manifesto promised; and lack of action on other measures or legislation that protesters said are not yet completed or fully implemented.
“We are not ‘useless’ citizens,” organisers said. “We have gifts and skills, and can offer Ireland a great deal. With the right supports we can fly.”
Frank said they are not sure how many people with disabilities will be able to attend the protest on Thursday, but said that in itself was an illustration of one of the challenges disabled people face.
“For a person with a disability to use their personal assistant hours to go to the protest is a problem in itself, because it leaves them probably with inadequate PA hours then for the week,” he said.
There is more on the Facebook event page for the protest, Broken Promises - Disabled People Fight Back.