Dear Minister Flanagan,
I am writing to you to express my concerns regarding the impending closure of the National Platform of Self-Advocates, a national organisation led by people with intellectual disabilities to represent the voice of people with intellectual disabilities at all levels of society, and set up as a Disabled Persons Organisation for this purpose.
Over the past 8 years, the Platform has consistently advocated on behalf of their members and the wider community of people with intellectual disabilities, by delivering public consultations, research projects, training practitioners and campaigning on the right to live independently and employment for people with disabilities.
Yet in spite of the Platform’s achievements, people with intellectual disabilities remain one of the most underserved and marginalised groups in Irish society, a legacy from our historical reliance on institutions as well as the perception that people with intellectual disabilities are objects of charity, without having rights themselves. They have been absent from contributing to important conversations which impact their lives, on the right to live independently in the community, the right to work, the right to education, the right to have relationships, to live lives without fear of discrimination, violence and abuse, and be part of a society which respects their dignity and human rights. People with intellectual disabilities are disproportionately subjected to higher levels of ableist hate crime and violence than the general population, and they face barriers at every corner to accessing the justice system. These are all issues where people with intellectual disabilities have lots to say on, and they deserve to have their voices heard at all corners of Irish society.
Organisations like the National Platform of Self-advocates give people with intellectual disabilities the platform they deserve to raise the issues that most matter to them. To close the National Platform due to funding issues would be a massively short-sighted decision, particularly with their role in monitoring and implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and even with the funding issues experienced by the disability sector, their work and experience should be valued by Irish society. I anticipate that in line with Article 29 of the UN CRPD, organisations that represent people with disabilities like the National Platform of Self-advocates receive the funding and stability they need to help them carry out this critical and necessary work.
Member of the Disability Advisory Committee of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission