Government and HSE cannot continue to break the law by denying the rights of children with disabilities – Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has called on the government and HSE to stop breaking the law, stop cutting corners, and provide children with disabilities with the services they need.

Sinn Féin introduced a Dáil motion calling on government to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are fully protected, that they fulfil their obligations under the Disability Act in full, and that the Optional Protocol on the UNCRPD is implemented.

Teachta Munster said:

“The High Court has ruled that the HSE’s assessment of need process is operating outside of the law and is denying children with disabilities their right, as set down in the Disability Act, to a proper assessment of need within six months.

“As has been constantly raised by Sinn Féin, this procedure was introduced in 2020 in bad faith as a mechanism for the government to avoid its legal obligations.

“They have now been found out.

“The judgement was a damning indictment of government policy and their abject failure to appropriately resource Children’s Disability Services.

“It reflects the widespread personal testimonies of parents and disability organisations who have shared their harrowing and exhausting experiences with Sinn Féin TDs.

“We will continue to stand up for these children and their parents, and we will ensure that their voices are heard.

“Earlier this month, the government accepted our motion on assessment of need, which pointed out consistent breaches of the law. They also accepted the High Court ruling.

“Of late, government has been accepting motions, or not opposing them, purely for fear of public backlash. But the reality is that they never act on them.

“But what we need to see now is action. The Minister must commit to providing the funding and resources necessary to ensure children get the services they need in a timely manner.

“Sinn Féin’s motion calls on government to implement the optional protocol on the UNCRPD, and to commit that any review of the Disability Act will not be used to undermine the current rights of people with disabilities.

“We are also calling for an immediate upgrade of the relevant IT systems and databases to accurately maintain and report on the data required under the Disability Act 2005.

“They must also develop and implement a strategy to recruit and retain the staff needed to deliver services, including reviewing the current critical skills list and providing a job guarantee to health and social care graduates.

“We also believe that full reports before the Houses of the Oireachtas before the summer recess are necessary. These must detail in full how government will meet its legal obligations under the Disability Act and resource Children’s Disability Services.

“The government must live up to its legal obligations and provide children with disabilities with the services they need.”

Flood vows to continue fighting for disability rights and access in Drogheda.

Sinn Féin Councillor Kenneth Flood has pledged to continue fighting to improve disability access in Drogheda.

Cllr. Flood said “I recently met with Nicola McDonnell from the Irish Wheelchair Association where she highlighted the dangers at the George Street Bus stop. To get there wheelchair users have to go out onto the road into the flow of traffic to access the dipped part of the kerb and then the footpath has a really steep incline that makes it almost impossible for a wheelchair user to keep themselves safe.”

Cllr Flood also noticed that “the marked wheelchair space for those wishing to use the bus is also heavily sloped. I have contacted the Operations Department of Louth County Council, as have the Irish Wheelchair Association, asking that the dipped kerb be moved so wheelchair users can access it without being forced into the flow of traffic and the footpath up to and including the wheelchair space be levelled to make it safer. These works should be carried out as a matter of urgency.”

Cllr Flood has been pro-active on disability access throughout his term on the Council. “The Drogheda Sinn Féin Team have allocated tens of thousands of euros from our Community Allocation fund to address disability access problems in Drogheda including improvements at; Rathmullen Housing estate, the bus stop behind Abbey Shopping Centre, Mayoralty Street (beside Wheel Chair Association), Shop Street, St. Peter’s Cemetery, the Bull Ring at Ollie’s Pub, Mayorality Street / Bachelor’s Lane junction, Twenties Lane, Bog Lane Off Crosslane and Midwifery Education Centre at Hardeman’s Gardens. We have also provided some disabled parking spaces.”

“The work we were able to fund has helped but the real task is to have Louth County Council focused on disability access and for it to be taken into consideration whenever there is road works or footpath
works happening. This is an on-going issue and I will continue fighting for disability rights and access in Drogheda.”


Adams calls for implementation of UN Con. on Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams joined with party colleagues on Tuesday evening in the Dáil in demanding that the government do more to deliver on the rights contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He commended Louth Groups and individuals who advocate their services for citizens with disabilities.

He said: “They provide much needed supports for citizens in this constituency with disabilities and have fought a battle a day with successive governments over the lack of funding, planning and resources. It took 11 years for the government to ratify the UN Convention. This is totally contrary to the Convention and is unacceptable.”

In March this year, 11 years after the state signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Government finally ratified the Convention.

On Tuesday, at a briefing with a range of disability groups the difficulties confronting citizens with disabilities, including the lack of planning, resources and funding, were discussed.

Gerry Adams TD said:

“The eventual ratification by the government of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was an important step forward. However, it is meaningless if the Convention is not implemented in full and if the legislation needed to achieve this is not enacted by the Oireachtas.

That means that the Government must ratify the Optional Protocol, as they had previously promised. In addition, the Assisted-Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 remains at a standstill with the essential establishment of a Decision Support Service still awaited. We also need progress on the enactment of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016.

Today in a briefing organised by Teachta O Caoláin, Shelley Gaynor and James Cawley from Independent Living Movement Ireland; Sarah Lennon, Inclusion Ireland; Kathy Moore, Rehab Ireland; Allen Dunne, Disability Federation of Ireland and Joan Carthy, Irish Wheelchair Association; told us that without adequate services citizens living with disabilities are like prisoners.

In Louth I work with many groups and individuals who advocate for services for people with disabilities; groups like the Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled; Louth Respite Group; WALK Peer, and others. I commend them all”.

Sinn Féin allocates €5 million for state wide Walk-Peer project – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has revealed that the party’s alternative budget for 2019 “recognises the wonderful work of the Walk-Peer project in Louth. In Sinn Féin’s alternative budget for 2019 we propose rolling out the Walk-Peer experience across the state. We have allocated five million Euro to set-up a Walk-Peer programme of employment supports for young people with disabilities in every county.”

The Louth TD said: “Walk-Peer was one of 14 disability activation projects that were originally jointly funded by the Department of Social Protection and the European Social Fund. Its objective was to provide people with disabilities with the means to avail of progression, education and development opportunities within the world of work.

The programme ended three years ago. Since then, along with others, I have lobbied the government to sustain funding for the Louth project because of the exemplary work it does and the help it provides citizens with disabilities.

WALK Peer is a model programme which has dramatically changed the lives of young people with disabilities in my constituency. Scores of young people have availed of the programme, and very positive outcomes have been achieved by all who participated in it. WALK Peer has proven to be a very successful in ensuring that young people with disabilities are afforded equal access to employment, education and training.

Consequently, Sinn Féin now wants to roll the Walk-Peer experience out across the state. In our alternative budget for 2019 we have allocated five million Euro to set-up a Walk-Peer programme of employment supports for young people with disabilities in every county. In addition we will increase by 10% the Wage Subsidy Scheme which supports people with disabilities.”

Adams and Ó Murchú Attend Louth Respite Forum

Sinn Féin TD for Louth Gerry Adams and Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú have met with HSE management and families of those with intellectual disabilities to discuss the respite needs of families in County Louth.

The meeting of Louth Respite Forum, which took place on Friday 27th April in Ardee, is the latest in a series of engagements regarding the lack of adequate respite provision.

Following the meeting Gerry Adams said,

“Respite is essential for families caring for loved ones with intellectual disabilities.  These families love their children, that is absolutely without doubt.  They care for them diligently their whole lives, but everybody needs a break.

“In order for these parents to provide this intensive level of care into the future, the Government needs to support them through the provision of respite.  I have met with the Minister for Disability Finian McGrath on many occasions and raised the shocking gaps in provision of respite in Louth.

“I welcomed the Minister’s announcement in December 2017 that additional funding would be made available to the HSE in Louth and I am pleased to see the outworking of this with the recent opening of Bower House in Balbriggan which will provide respite for young adults.

“Although welcome we still have many citizens who are not able to access appropriate respite in Louth.  Older people with intellectual disabilities who live with their elderly parents are in desperate need of a proper respite service.  Dundalk Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled have long made the case for their loved ones who are being treated shamefully at the moment.

“I also welcome the news that the HSE will address this with a new premises in Dundalk which will be operative in the Autumn and I look forward to the delivery of this service.

“I also pressed the HSE on the issue of emergency respite, the lack of which led to the complete cessation of summer respite in 2016.  I received confirmation that the HSE are looking at realistic options in the event of an emergency which would not affect the respite of other citizens.

Councillor Ó Murchú added,

“Louth Respite Forum is a very useful platform for engagement between citizens, politicians and service providers.  There is no doubt that there are gaps in provision in Louth, however this forum enables families to hold politicians to account and to put their queries directly to the HSE.”