'Shameful' cutbacks being used to fund bank bailout


AN INDEPENDENT candidate in the general election said it was an indictment on the way the country has been run that services to people with disabilities were reduced so that banks could be bailed out.

Mr Eamon Walsh, a candidate in Galway West, was speaking at a debate in NUI Galway organised by the Lifecourse Institute, a body which is composed of the Child and Family Research Centre, the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology and the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway.

Mr Walsh was one of seven candidates in the general election to participate in the debate. Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív (FF), Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin (GP), Senator Fidelma Healy Eames (FG), Cllr Derek Nolan (Lab), Mr Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (SF) and Mr Uinseann Holmes (Ind) also took part.

The primary function of the Lifecourse Institute at NUI Galway is to produce research that “supports innovative policy reform” that enables citizens to achieve their potential and have productive lives.

The institute believes there is a need for a new approach and says the incoming government will be faced with “a mountain of social policy challenges”.

The debate involving election candidates centred around the young, the disabled and the elderly.

Mr Walsh, whose son has an intellectual disability, has campaigned for a decade for better services for people with disabilities.

“It is absolutely shameful that we have cutbacks to services that we so desperately need because of a few bankers. This nonsense has to stop,” he said.

“People with disabilities want to do ordinary things in ordinary places. They want to be treated as subjects and not objects of charity.”

Mr Ó Cuív said that 180,000 people were receiving disability or invalid pensions. He said there was a need to assess the scale of disability as some people wanted to be able to have an income, or partial income, while also receiving assistance. He said there was no difference from the marginal to the more severe.

All seven candidates agreed that deaf people should be allowed serve on juries and participate fully in the legal system. They also agreed that the age of voting should be lowered to 16.

One parent, who was deaf, told the panel that there was no money in her child’s school to fund an interpreter and, as a result, she could not attend parent-teacher meetings.