The next Government’s policy in relation to disability issues must prioritise supports for independent living for people with disabilities in counties Longford and Westmeath. That’s according to the Centre for Independent Living (CIL ), which launched a political awareness campaign in advance of the forthcoming general election in Dublin last week.
The organisation told Longford-Westmeath TD, Mary O’Rourke, who attended the launch along with fellow Oireachtas members from across the country, that the incoming Government must ensure that the recession does not relegate disability issues to the bottom of the policy agenda, and it highlighted that greater support for independent living would ultimately enable more people with disabilities to participate in the workforce, and would therefore provide some cost benefits to the Exchequer, according to CIL.
CIL was established in 1992 and strives to empower and enable people with disabilities to achieve independent living. Speaking at the launch of its pre-election campaign, Michael McCabe, spokesperson for CIL, said, “We certainly recognise the very difficult financial situation facing this country, and realise that the next Government will have to make more hard choices.
“However, we want to remind politicians that people with disabilities in Longford, Westmeath, and throughout Ireland – more than any other sector of society – are heavily reliant on the State for supports and services. Any further cuts to incomes and services would have a hugely detrimental impact on the lives of people with disabilities and their families.
“Over the lifetime of the next Government, it is critical that disability payments are examined to ensure they meet the high cost of living that people with disabilities face. Increasingly, due to recent budget reductions, people with disabilities are experiencing serious financial hardship. As a very first step, we are looking for a copper-fastened guarantee from political parties and independent candidates that disability payments, including the disability allowance, blind pension, illness benefit and invalidity pension, are not subjected to any further cuts.
“Ultimately, we would like to see our politicians become more visionary about disability policy and including a focused commitment in the next programme for government to support independent living. By putting in place the infrastructure and supports for independent living, the next Government would facilitate more people with disabilities to participate fully in society, including in the areas of employment, community, and education,” said Mr McCabe.