‘It’s time that government made them happen’ – Deputy Michael Lowry TD told the Dáil
‘Disability rights are human rights, not special rights. Persons with disabilities have the same rights as all people to non-discrimination, access, equality of opportunity, inclusion and full participation in society. It is time that Government made this happen’ Deputy Michael Lowy said when addressing a Regional Group Private Members Motion on Disability and Transport in the Dail on Thursday.
‘All over Ireland disabled people are limited in their social lives, their choice of work and access to education and healthcare – all because of we are failing to meet their needs. Failing to allow them the same freedoms that we do not even think about. Failing to grant them full access to their lives.
‘These basic rights that we take for granted are being denied to men, women, teenagers and children because successive Governments have failed to recognise their human needs. They have stolen their ability to fully live their lives by denying them the ability to do so.
‘For adults with disabilities in rural areas of Tipperary and in other similar counties, lack of access to public transport deprives them of even the most basic activities.
‘The discontinuation of the Mobility Allowance and the Motorised Transport Grant in 2013 was the ultimate slamming of the door in the faces of disabled people who live in rural areas.
‘A replacement Scheme was promised. Ten years later this has not materialised. Despite the knowledge that ending these supports resulted in many disabled people being stranded in their homes and left entirely dependent on other people, Government turned a deaf ear.
‘It was a classic case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as many disabled people in rural Ireland became invisible. Neglect of their needs rendered them prisoners in their homes’ he said.
Deputy Lowry also emphasised that ‘One of the greatest and most basic rights of all people is the right to work. For many physically disabled people, the ability to hold down a job brings them their greatest satisfaction and purpose in life. It can, in fact, be the one place where they can fully participate, are accepted on an equal footing and can realise their personal worth.
‘A Comprehensive Employment Strategy is in place to make this possible. Disabled people must be treated equally by potential employers.
‘Yet how can an employer treat a disabled person equally if a question mark hangs over their ability to get to work? Public transport in Ireland has improved in terms of being on time as growing numbers of people depend on it on a daily basis.
‘However, a disabled person must first be able to get to a bus stop or a train station. They may need help to board if the bus or train does not have a properly integrated ramp. They must depend on others to store away a wheelchair if it cannot be accommodated on board. They may feel awkward or a hindrance to other passengers.
‘These feelings may be enough to prevent them from trying to secure a job. Equally, these thoughts will also run through the minds of employers who may silently question the person’s ability to be a reliable employee.
‘This motion calls for several changes. Each one is equally important as the other. It’s time that Government made them happen’ he concluded.