Special Olympic Games

 

Sir, - Dr Mark Harrold's letter (December 13th) regarding the announcement of £6 million towards the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games, refers to the lack of provision for people with a mental handicap in institutional care.

There are indeed many barriers that still exist and people with a learning disability encounter negative attitudes every day. However, I believe that in the last number of years, successive governments have begun to address the issues of the rights of people with a learning disability in a variety of substantive ways. We have still some way to go, however. Sport and participation in Special Olympics is a tremendous way to break down barriers and to raise awareness of people with a learning disability and to bring attention to their ability rather than their disability. It is for this reason and this reason alone that the bid to bring the World Games to Ireland was initiated.

I strongly believe that we will organise a World Games in Ireland in 2003 that will not only be the largest sporting event in the world in that year but it will also make a significant contribution to understanding and awareness of all people with a learning disability. Our hope is that the Games will help in a significant way to alleviate some of the conditions and attitudes referred to in Dr Mark Harrold's letter. - Yours, etc.,

Mary Davis, Chief Operating Officer, Special Olympic Games, NCR, Dublin 7.