Campaign Aims to Disable Inequality in Election 2016

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Disable Inequality, a major Election campaign launched today (Wednesday 13th January), is calling on the next Government to establish a Cabinet Minister for Disability Inclusion. It is also calling for an end to the anomaly that means that people with disabilities cannot access many Government job activation schemes and the reinstatement of the €150m which has been taken out of disability health services since 2008. This is a grassroots movement election campaign that will engage the public and candidates across all 43 constituencies.


There are 600,000 people living with a disability in Ireland – that’s 13% of the population – a number that is growing as Ireland’s population ages.  Two in three people know or care for an immediate family member, a friend or a neighbour living with a disability.


Despite this, according to John Dolan, Campaign Director of Disable Inequality, disability has never received the political leadership, attention and commitment that it needs to make Ireland an equal country.   “This campaign”, he added, “is the first election campaign that gives people with disabilities and their families one focus and one voice.”


“Disable Inequality is simple,” Mr Dolan said.  “With just two words it tells us that it is not the disability that we live with that is disabling.  It is the inequality that we live with that is disabling.”


He continued “Ireland is a deeply unequal country for people with disabilities. It is a country where discrimination, segregation and bias is a daily experience. We’ve had lots of policies, we’ve had strategies, we’ve had promises.  But we have never had a serious political commitment to ending the unfairness that is a systemic part of life for thousands of people and their families.  In this year of election and reflection we must disable inequality for once. The power of this campaign is in people’s stories, so we have mobilised our grassroots to tell their stories, to highlight the inequalities faced, one story at a time.”


He stated “People with disabilities are among the poorest and most marginalized groups in the country.  Eighty percent are unemployed.   Only one in two go beyond secondary education. People with disabilities can’t access many Government job activation schemes because they are not considered to be on the live register.  People with disabilities have to give 24 hours notice if they want to travel by train. Children with disabilities often can’t attend their local schools because of the lack of basic supports.  Over 3,000 are still locked up in outdated institutions. Does that seem fair to you?”


Mr Dolan concluded “Disable Inequality is asking the electorate to put fairness and possibility for their neighbours to the fore when they go to vote, and to consider that people with disability routinely experience poverty, exclusion and loss of hope for their future. People with disabilities in every constituency will be telling their stories of inequality and bias.  These stories will build up a book of evidence that will be presented to political leaders and candidates during the General Election 2016 campaign.”


For more information contact:


Jacqueline Grogan, Communications Officer, Tel:  086 388 2600

John Dolan, Campaign Director, Tel: 086 795 7467


Note to editors:

Disable Inequality is supported by Disability Federation of Ireland – working with people with disabilities to achieve their equal inclusion.  It is also supported by many well-known activists including Louise Bruton, Legless in Dublin blogger; Tom Clonan, advocate for active citizenship; Marian Maloney, disability activist; and Ellen Keane, Paralympian Swimmer and double world bronze medallist. 


Recent research by DFI, carried out by ireach, shows that one out of two people agree that people with disabilities don’t have the same opportunities to participate in Irish society as everyone else.  This was backed up by qualitative research to test the fundamental principles of equality at the centre of the Disable Inequality campaign.


Disable Inequality – Priorities for the Programme for Government


1.                   Establish a Cabinet Minister for Disability Inclusion to drive and co-ordinate Government response including the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2017.

2.                   Increase the Disability Allowance starting with €20 in Budget 2017 and introduce a Disability Tax Credit.

3.                   Make all employment activation programmes eligible to people with disabilities.

4.                   Increase the disability budget in health by €50m each year.

5.                   Increase the Personal Assistant budget by €7m each year for the next 3 years.

6.                   Guarantee that medical cards are retained on need not employment status.

7.                   Ensure all education programmes provide supports for full inclusion.

8.                   Ensure all public transport, facilities and structures are accessible.




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