Residential settings upgrade plan a “kick in the teeth”, disability protestors tell Taoiseach
Disability protesters have told An Taoiseach that a Government decision to provide an extra €450 million for residential settings is a “kick in the teeth”.
The protesters outside Government Buildings told An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, as he made his way into the Cabinet Meeting this morning, that the Government’s announcement that it is to provide a further €450m to nursing homes – effectively residential institutions – is a complete kick in the teeth to the wishes and needs of most people with disabilities and their families.
After a cold first night of their gruelling 72-hour campaign on Merrion Street, the initial group of 20 campaigners are expecting an even bigger number of people to join them today.
They are planning a press conference outside Government Buildings at 12 pm today to talk further about their demands for equality and human rights as equal citizens. This starts, they said, with listening to people with disabilities and with recognising their expectations to be able to live independently where possible.
“Putting an extra €450 million into an outdated and dysfunctional system is a complete kick in the teeth to us and to what we are looking for.”
“The street is a very cold place to be,” Martin Naughton, Director of Áiseanna Tacaíochta (ÁT), said. “We shouldn’t have to do this. But this is what we have been driven to. We have to fight for our recognition as independent and equal citizens of Ireland. We have to camp at the doors of power to be heard.”
“We know how things can be improved and it is not by pumping money into residential centres. We, and our families, can make decisions for ourselves about the best services we need to live our lives, without reliance on the discretion of others. This is why it is so important that Ireland catches up with the modern world and moves to a system of self-directed living supports and Direct Payments for people with disabilities, instead of burying more tax payers money in services that are often dysfunctional.”
Naughton, along with other activists, made the decision to take the streets following appalling and alarming reports about the treatment of people, mainly with disabilities, at some residential centres.
The group remains hopeful that An Taoiseach’s commitment to meet with them, made yesterday, will be confirmed today. The group will set out to Mr Kenny and his Ministers how state funding for people with disabilities can be much more efficiently and effectively used by reallocating resources away from the outdated current model which pays institutions to provide services to people to models which would mean that people with disabilities can choose and pay for the supports and services they need themselves if they so wish.