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People with disabilities fight off return to ‘dark ages’

The Kerry Network of People with Disabilities said on November 3rd that the Government had insulted it by taking seriously an “outdated” proposal by Colm McCarthy’s board that would push people with disabilities “back to the dark ages” of institutionalisation and abuse. An Bord Snip Nua proposed that issues involving people with disabilities be moved from the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform to the Department of Health and Children. The KNPD were not asked for their views, which is something they take issue with. They have always said their clients/supporters have rights to equality and are not to be regarded as charity cases. The KNPD – a CDP – has regularly over the years spoken out on behalf of the 10% of the population living with a disability. (Ref: See below for back-issue coverage on disability). Now they fear that people with disabilities will be rendered “powerless” and forced into a fearful situation. “If (the move to the Department of Health) were to happen, it would be a step backwards in our ongoing campaign for equality as it would put us back to the medical model rather than the social model which we believe we are making progress on at present,” said KNPD chairperson Noel O’Neill. “The medical model is so outdated it beggars belief that McCarthy should even think of putting people with disabilities back to the dark ages of abuse and neglect by the State which only recently made the headlines through the

McCARTHY: CDPs TAKE TO THE STREETS shocking reports on institutional abuse from our past. “We have a very good working relationship with the Department of Health and Children and the HSE at present and are part funded by them for which we are grateful but we cannot let the situation arise where they dictate the agenda to suit themselves at the expense of people with disabilities. “The medical model is we believe where people with disabilities are thought of as people who cannot do anything for themselves and need constant care and protection both from themselves and the rest of society. “We are constantly told that (others) know best, while we know ourselves what we really want but have no choice in the matter. “The social model gives us different choices - we can speak for ourselves and lobby service providers and criticize different Government agency’s without fear of repercussions.

“Do we really want a society that leaves 10% plus of its population without a voice? We don’t want to be put back to the middle of the last century, we want to hold onto freedom of speech, our right to tell people that things are being done wrong. We want to retain the right to explain to service providers the way we want things delivered. “We also think it an insult to people with disabilities that we have not been invited to the table to participate in the talks on our future, as an independent voice of and for people with disabilities we are calling on both departments to include us in those talks,” added Noel. Over 200 people rallied in support of the project at a demo in Tralee in August.

A typical




According to the Wexford CDP Network, the following is their measure of what CDPs do with approx €120,000 each per annum: A typical project is open and accessible centre which is free and at the heart of the communities Volunteers manage and direct the work of the community project. Provide administration for small local groups that no-one hears about. Provide affordable childcare facilities. Volunteers manage and/or operate the local services of Childcare, Youth work, Community Education and family support. Free and flexible delivery of Adult Education Courses. Affordable premises for groups to use, such as Youth services, Women’s Groups, Bereavement Groups, Dads and Kids Groups, Drugs Family Support Groups, Traveller After school Groups, Men’s Health project, Narcotics Anonymous. A place for many older people to socialise. Support for families of people with enduring Mental Health problems and substance abuse. Support for a Community Health Project. Facilities or resources to upskill people in the hope that Ireland comes out of this current downturn. Affordable rural transport. Two workers to support the volunteers and the work.


Past-issue coverage of disability campaigns: Issue 24, pages 22-23 – Leigh Gath’s life-story: Her parents were advised by maternity hospital staff when she was born disabled “to leave her behind.” The parents ignored the hospital, as Leigh points out. The back page news story highlighted the KNPD’s readiness to help apprehend abusers of people with disabilities. Issue 19, Autumn ’06, page 2: ‘We still want rights, not charity’ says KNPD. Issue 8, Summer 2003, various pages: focused on disability as a theme, looking at Community Development work in this area in the MidWest, Kerry, Connemara and Kildare. The coverage also looked in particular at women with disabilities. Issue 2, Winter 2001, broke the news nationally that people with disabilities were having sex like the rest of the population, challenging the old myth that they shouldn’t. The same issue covered the launch of advocacy networks for and by survivors of mental ill-health. The survivors can do more than sympathise, they can empathise with people attending mental health institutions. You can search other past issues online in our archive, on any subject: www.changingireland. ie/archive.html



Hot in Issue 30/31: bumper Double Issue Community Development Programme to end after 20 years/ 180 projects: facing wind-up in 2010/ New Pro...


Hot in Issue 30/31: bumper Double Issue Community Development Programme to end after 20 years/ 180 projects: facing wind-up in 2010/ New Pro...