Protest held over disability payments
Up to 2,000 people marched to Leinster House today in protest at proposed cuts to disability payments.
People with disabilities, their families and those supporting the rights of people with disabilities assembled at Central Bank at 2pm today before marching to Kildare Street.
The march was held to call on the Government to fulfil disability promises made in the 2011 Programme for Government and to call for equality and rights for people with disabilities.
Among the promises in the 2011 programme were the maintenance of social welfare rates and the introduction of independent inspection of disability services. It also promised to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Ann Matthews from Louth and her husband Thomas, who has a disability, were at the march.
“We’re down to nothing, we can’t afford any more cuts. It’s just a matter of getting from, week to week. We’re calling on the Government to stop any more cuts,” she said.
“It wouldn’t be repeatable what I want to tell the Government today. It’s disgraceful when you see the size of the salaries these politicians are on and they’re trying to take money off children, those with special needs and those with a disability. It’s people that can’t fight back,” said Mr Matthews.
Fran Kane from Tallaght was there with her 11-year-old son JJ, who has Down syndrome and arthritis.
“He doesn’t get any of the services and he doesn’t even have a school place. We had to take him out of his previous school because of health and safety issues and we can’t get the home tuition grant. He’s at home now since March and getting no education," she said.
“Typically, a child with Down syndrome needs speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. He gets none of these services due to cutbacks. That’s why we’re here today, we just want basic rights,” said Ms Kane.
Also in attendance was cerebral-palsy sufferer Peter Moore from Donaghmede, Dublin, who is the founder of the Independent Living Group.
“I am not vulnerable; I am strong. If I end up without services, I’ll go on hunger strike. I’m not afraid. I will make this Government regret they ever heard of me. I wrote a letter to Eamon Gilmore years ago and he said he would not stand for these cuts. He’s here today prepared to stand over them,” said Mr Moore.
He was accompanied by Aon Shiel from Kildare who said the services which have already been cut across the board are going to be further affected. "Who are the Government representing?” she asked.