GRDO Joint Statement: Cutbacks to People with Disabilities and those with Mental Health Needs are Unsustainable

Statement issued by Disability Federation of Ireland on behalf of NINE Leading Disability Organisations, listed below, at 11am, Monday 17 September, Buswells Hotel, Dublin

17 September 2012 - “We the under-signed national voluntary disability organisations, representing the diversity of people with disabilities and conditions which are disabling including mental health, make this joint statement to Government regarding Budget 2013.

The Programme for National Recovery early in 2011 undertook to ensure that “the quality of life of people with disabilities is enhanced”.  Yet the budgetary measures implemented by Government to date have worsened their situation. Five successive years of cutbacks have undermined the independence of people with disabilities and diminished the supports they need to live ordinary lives, to enjoy individual autonomy and to participate in society as equals.

People with disabilities and mental health needs, along with experiencing deterioration in the services and supports needed, are also living under the weight of general cutbacks and restrictions brought on by the recession.  This is a double recession hit for them and their families.
Disability is a social justice issue, as both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste stated in the last election debate.  It is also a national recovery issue.  A recovery programme that sidelines social priorities neglects a key ingredient for achieving strong, sustained performance.  Unless economic reforms are complemented by progress on Ireland’s social agenda, the pace of national recovery will falter.  As the National Economic and Social Council concluded some time ago, “A successful economy requires a successful society.”

Starting with Budget 2013 Government urgently needs to rebalance its recovery programme to protect the rights and strengthen the services and supports needed by people with disabilities.  Otherwise after the recession finally ends the State will face the frustration and costs of sustained social stress and blockages that drag down growth, as well as dismaying levels of inequality, caused by the running down of Ireland’s social infrastructure.  In deciding on the Budget the recession’s unfortunate legacy in terms of the interest burden on the national debt is not the only cause for concern. Government must take measures in the short term that have a long term logic.

Action by the Government is urgently needed to:

1. Halt reductions in the basic standard of living of people with disabilities requiring welfare supports. People with disabilities are most likely to experience real poverty because on top of the recent cuts in benefit levels and new charges, they also have to continue to pay for extras required due to their disability.

2. Ensure funding for the services needed by people with disabilities. Cutting the services required by people with disabilities not only undermines their lives, it also leads to a growing public burden in terms of hospital stays and expensive care costs.

3. Publish and show leadership on an ambitious Implementation Plan for the National Disability Strategy in keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where people have dignity, individual autonomy and full and effective participation in Irish society. People’s faith in Ireland’s eventual recovery depends not just on economic measures. Social protection for all people through this long, stressful period needs to be central to the Government‘s recovery plans. Government actions must address social inclusion / cohesion. Recent Government plans / cuts heighten these concerns in the run up to the Budget."

Issued on behalf of:

Care Alliance Ireland,
C.I.L. Carmichael (Centre for Independent Living)
Disability Federation of Ireland,  
Genetic & Rare Disorders Organisation
Inclusion Ireland
Mental Health Reform
Neurological Alliance of Ireland,
Not for Profit Business Association,
The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies

For Contact:

John Dolan, CEO DFI - 086-8370072,
Allen Dunne, Dep CEO, DFI - 086-8502112
Young Communications - 087-2471520
Care Alliance Ireland, Liam O'Sullivan - 087 2073265,
CIL Carmichael, Gary Lee - 086774489,
Genetic & Rare Disorders - 01 6269774 or 086 0229262,
Inclusion Ireland, Paddy Connolly - 0862581239,
Mental Health Reform, Orla Barry - 0868146865,
Neurological Alliance of Ireland, Chris Macey - 0872271582,
Not for Profit Business Association, Des Kenny - 0862413746,
The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies, Brian O'Donnell - 0878208050.