Sir, – Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath's pledge of new funds in the disability sector is welcome ("Extra ¤31 million disability funds 'entirely new', Minister says", June 9th).
I hope and expect that the bulk of the funds, which are to be directed at people with disabilities in midlife, will not be spent on residential care or institutions.
There is already a commitment and plan, with strong cross-party support and dating back to 2011, to end institutionalisation. Putting new people into existing or new residential services is most assuredly not the right way forward and will only delay the achievement of the 2011 plan.
Besides which, if that were to happen, Ireland would be sure to be found wanting under the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.
It is interesting to note that new EU regulations forbid the expenditure of EU structural funds on opening any new such institutions across Europe. Furthermore, the new regulations even forbid the refurbishment of existing institutions.
The priority now is to speed up the devolution of budgets to individuals so that they can control their own lives (which is a stated aim of the new programme for government) and to deliver on the long-standing promise of community living so that they can actually get a life. This does not mean new residential places.
Mr McGrath can count on widespread support if he wants to use new funds to begin turning the system around. – Yours, etc,
Prof GERARD QUINN,
Centre for Disability Law