Rights of people with disabilities

 

Sir, – The treatment of Grace and the flurry of statements and commentary in the wake of the publication of the reports is once again a reminder of how ill equipped we are as a nation to deal with those who are disabled.

While politicians during the 1990s submitted representations to the then health board on behalf of those who took the side of the foster family, no one was speaking out on behalf of Grace when it mattered most.

There were three levels of decision-making in the case. The two lower tiers made a case to remove Grace from the home, while the upper, third level, overruled the lower tiers and made the decision to leave her in situ.

How has that changed? It hasn’t. The Assisted Decision-Making Act was signed into law in December 2015 and yet the key position of director of the Decision Support Service has not been recruited. Nor has this country ratified the relevant United Nations declarations that would shift the paradigm in dealing with people with disabilities away from a paternalistic approach towards a rights-based one of choice, control and consent.

This Government’s reactive and complacent approach to disability is similar to that of its predecessors. I will conclude with a message for the well-meaning but ineffectual Minister of State for Disability Issues. Noble sentiments and fine speeches are no substitute for real change. The agenda has been set. Now get on with it. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL O’DOWD,

Chairman and

Disability Spokesman,

Renua,

Drogheda,

Co Louth.