I am writing to express my serious concern about the recent announcement of the National Platform that they must cease their activities due to a lack of funding. This is the only independent advocacy organization, established over the last 8 years, that represents the interests and voices of people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland.
The National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 promises to promote greater inclusion of people with disabilities in Irish society. It aims to focus, among other things, on Equality and Choice so that persons with disabilities are recognized as full rights holders are treated equally before the law. Supporting civil society and an independent voice are vital mechanisms to achieve equality and to secure rights.
Legal scholars Simpson and Price explain that genuine inclusion requires a social and democratic transformation of society. The National Platform has become an important part of this transformation as they work to create meaningful change for people with disabilities across core policy areas.
Upholding democratic principles, which includes strong representative voices, is a fundamental requirement of inclusion. Supporting an independent and democratic civil society is the only way real inclusion can be achieved and equality of participation ensured.
The work of the National Platform is invaluable and a unique achievement. Ireland must secure the independent voice of people with disabilities, particularly since ratifying the UN CRPD with its focus on participation and inclusion.
I call on you to take action to secure funding for the important work of the National Platform of Self-Advocates, without which real inclusion and participation can not be achieved.
Irish Research Council Scholar | Doctoral Researcher
Centre for Disability Law and Policy
National University of Ireland, Galway