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Social Democrats TD for Cork South West, Holly Cairns, today accused the Government of abdicating its responsibilities for people with disabilities by being overly reliant on the voluntary sector and family carers.

At the Special Covid Committee this morning, representatives from the disability sector highlighted the many challenges for people with disabilities in our society and provided guidance on a disability inclusive recovery. There were stark warnings that the State was facing a pandemic of ‘carer burnout’ in the event of a second wave of Covid-19.

Deputy Cairns said:

“It is abundantly clear that the State continually abdicates responsibility for this sector, relying on voluntary organisations and families to provide an essential service. This has to change.

“Of particular concern is the estimated 1,500 people under the age of 65 with disabilities who live in nursing homes. There is no medical need for most of them to be there, and following the clustering of coronavirus in these settings, they have been put at additional risk.

“I have recently tried to get figures for the number of young people in nursing homes in Cork but the HSE said they were not able to provide this information. It seems like these people are being forgotten about.”

She added: “Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities guarantees the right to live independently in the community rather than in institutions. This is a sentiment we can all agree with – people with disabilities should be enabled to live outside of institutions, contributing to our communities and living as independently as possible. It is simply a matter of investment.

“If proper funding is made available, it will be possible to move the remaining people in congregated settings to homes in the community within the life of this Government.

“This situation is symptomatic of how people with disabilities and their families are treated by the State. It took Ireland a shamefully long time to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and I am deeply concerned that it will take even longer for legislation and policies to implement it.

“We cannot stand idly by and allow people with disabilities and their family carers to be left high and dry by the State during the Covid-19 crisis.”


July 17, 2020

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