To Minister for Justice, Mr. Charlie Flanagan
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) clearly states that all people with disabilities have the right to be included in the community. The motto of the international disability movement has since the launch of the UNCRPD been “Nothing about us without us”.
Ireland’s first disabled persons organization, The National Platform of Self Advocates, is the only one in Ireland which is directed, managed and run by people with intellectual disabilities. Since 2011, they have advocated for the rights of disabled people. They have more than 350 members. Their work is done by their steering committee. They are all volunteers and none of them draw down salaries.
Their costs have been few, their contribution has been huge. They have members on the Disability Advisory Committee that is monitoring the implementation of the UNCRPD. They have done their own research into the lives of people with intellectual disabilities living in Ireland and presented these findings to the government.
Now their work is about to end. They will be closing down their operations from January 2020 due to an absence of funding or suitable supports for their work.
Self-advocacy organisations, like The National Platform of Self Advocates, fight for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. If they stop working, people with intellectual disabilities lose their chance for inclusion and equality.
No European government should let that happen. Yet, this is now happening in Ireland.
This development is truly unacceptable. States must provide funding for self-advocacy organisations which represent people most likely to be excluded from politics and other areas of decision-making. The UNCRPD is very clear stating that all people with disabilities have the right to be fully included in the community.
Ireland and European Union have ratified the UNCRPD.
People with intellectual disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in European societies. This turn of events in Ireland is the ultimate demonstration of a situation where self-advocacy organisations are often the first to lose funding.