Dear Minister Flanagan,
I am deeply disappointed at the lack of on-going funding to support the extremely important work of the National Platform of Self Advocates. Similar groups exist in all other jurisdictions some called People First. They need adequate on-going funding.
The group is made up of people who have made important changes in their own lives, moving from Institutions to their own homes, seeking employment and control of their own lives and relationships and want to support the voice of others to have these basic rights respected. Too often Service Providers claim to be the voice of people with disabilities. But we have seen the breadth of evidence in so may recent scandals that this is not the case. Professional Groups have unions who ensure their voice is heard over those who they are there to support. The title care is used when people want support to live the life of their choosing.
It is vital that the voice of people with intellectual disabilities are heard, also to dispel the myth that people are not able to speak up for themselves. It is a requirement of the Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities in Article 4.3 and Art 33.3 that the voices of people with disabilities are heard. This cannot be undertaken in an ad hoc way but requires that a structure be in place to make sure that the voice of people with disabilities is heard independently and is supported to develop.
In many people experiencing high levels of discrimination, segregation and exclusion throughout their lives, means that people with intellectual disabilities voice needs to be supported and nurtured to have an equal say in their lives and to be able to support others with similar discriminatory experiences. This includes decisions about day to day choices to bigger choices in life.
This structure is required to restore their democratic right to have their voice heard.
I urge you to urgently find this necessary funding.
Maria Walls B.Sc., CQSW., M.Ed., LLM.
PhD Student in Law at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy,
NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland.
Government of Ireland Research Scholar in the Humanities and Social Sciences