How will the IWA Personal Assistant Strike impact my life?

Emma Ward. Photo credit: Martin Beanz Warde, photo taken from Warde's photojournalist series, 'Through our Eyes'.

Emma Ward. Photo credit: Martin Beanz Warde, photo taken from Warde's photojournalist series, 'Through our Eyes'.

Why must disabled people, especially young disabled people like myself, suffer significant effects from the Irish Wheelchair Association strike that they have no other option but to do in order to improve their staff benefits because they are not paid fairly in comparison to the workers who are directly employed by the HSE and their services?

I only have my personal assistant once a week, but she makes a huge difference impact on my life, and I can honestly say that I could not have accomplished some of the things I did without her support. She, along with the other Irish Wheelchair Association PAs and home help service providers are Section 39 workers, so they should be paid fairly, just like the workers who are also directly employed by the HSE.

The Irish Government must seriously consider this strike’s negative effects on disabled people’s quality of life without these supports. This strike, which they caused, will disrupt and may significantly worsen the lives of disabled people because they cannot access the support they so desperately need in their daily lives – this could all be avoided if the government only listened to the unions.

I am a very determined and hardworking person who loves to be as independent as possible and to spend as much time in my city as I can and because of the type of job I have (disability activist and journalist ), I need those crucial personal assistant services to be able to continue succeeding in these roles, and regrettably if I lose the services, I am essentially losing all the opportunities to grow as a person in both my private life and my professional life because I won’t have that personal assistant support anymore.

When this strike happens on October 17, I will be losing out on my service and losing that time I spend being as independent as I can, which I think is well deserved if I do say so myself. I have a personal assistant because I love my independence and do not want to rely on my family all the time to just be able to socialize in my local town and city.

I don’t know when my PA service will resume because of the uncertainty of the strike, so I won’t be able to continue living the most independent life I can because I would have to use my PA service to support some of it, so I am being seriously affected by this strike.

But it’s not just myself I’m thinking about; I’m thinking about how the people who rely on the services IWA offers much more than me will suffer until the strike is over, these people don’t deserve to struggle without the services, they deserve to live a life without that worry and the only people that can get rid of that worry is the Irish Government!

I must repeat myself and say I beg you Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Irish Government to listen and support these organizations, prevent the strike, and keep providing the service users with their well-deserved supports.


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