Disability Federation of Ireland Urges Support for PA Service in Seanad

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Press Release

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is urging Senators to vote in favour of the motion on the Personal Assistant (PA) service for people with disabilities in the Seanad debate taking place today.

A private members bill, being examined in the Seanad this afternoon, seeks to “support the provision of a PA service in the overall framework of the migration to a person-centred supports model”, allowing people with disabilities to live and engage with independence and flexibility in their own communities.

Chief Executive of DFI, John Dolan, called on Senators to back the motion, explaining that “PA is a flagship programme which ensures that people can be active and autonomous participants in the community. It unlocks their participation across a range of areas, from education to employment, as well as the whole area of community and family participation”.

He continued,
“The Government has made several commitments to people with disabilities and their families over recent years.  Chief amongst these was the commitment made by both An Taoiseach and An Tánaiste, prior to the General Election, that disability was their number one social justice priority.  However, over the last few years, the PA service, like many others, has been squeezed and cut back, and this is significantly impacting people’s capacity to live independently in their own communities”.

Mr Dolan outlined that the Government’s undervaluing of the PA service undermines its policy of inclusion and mainstreaming.  Although the PA service has been in operation long before the policy shift to participation and independent living, it was not considered in the 2012 report of the Value for Money Review Group, and has been further eroded since then.

He concluded,
PA has proved itself to be a most potent instrument in providing practical and flexible support to people with disabilities, enabling them to participate equally in ordinary life, attend school and college, complete training and enjoy family and community life. Supporting this motion would be the first step in enshrining this service in law; If the Government is serious about ensuring that everyone in Ireland has opportunities to flourish, it must revitalise and enhance the PA service”

Notes for editors

  • To promote a better understanding about Ireland’s PA service and why it merits respect and support, DFI published a report that can be found on our website at http://www.disability-federation.ie/index.php?uniqueID=10810.  This report examines the current state of the service, and was developed in consultation with people who are using the service.  In addition, the way the service contributes to the realisation of “full inclusion and self-determination for people” is highlighted through people’s experiences.
     
  • Both Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny named the area of disability as their number one social justice priority in the final RTÉ television debate in advance of the 2011 General Election.  An excerpt from this debate is below:
    • Miriam O’Callaghan: “I want to ask you, if you had one key social justice issue that you would pursue if you were in government, what would it be?”
    • Eamon Gilmore:  “I think it would be looking after people with disabilities…… the first area that Labour in government would address, in terms of equality and in terms of giving decent supports to people would be the area of disabilities. I think, as a country, we need to set that as a priority.”
    • Enda Kenny: “That’s very laudable. I share that, and I feel an absolute priority should be the 300,000 people who suffer from mental illness every year and 75,000 who attempt self-harm, and a ratcheting up for the people who have the tragedy of suicide”.

Contact Details

John Dolan                        Chief Executive Officer                  086 795 7467

Allen Dunne                       Deputy Chief Executive                 086 850 2112

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