Dear Minister Flanagan,
The closure of the National Platform of Self Advocates in January 2020 is simply an outrage, due to alleged funding concerns; which is run by individuals with intellectual disabilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
For those directly and indirectly involved, this must be prevented, as often disability services are one of the first in a line of savage cut-backs. Yet, for true inclusion to determine life choices, disabled persons must have full, meaningful participation in all areas of their lives, not as mere bystanders, jumping to the tune of non-disabled people with their outmoded policies, that do not come close to the real, everyday concerns.
I have a son, Ryan, who has autism, ADHD and epilepsy and in two and a half years time, he too will be an adult with intellectual disabilities. We need to give, rather than take away.
I presently work for Ability West with service users who have intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, etc. Believe me, all of these people are human beings, and thrive on experiencing laughter, embarrassing times and taking reasonable risks, together with all of the other things that make up life.
I am also a current student at St. Angela’s College, part of NUI, Galway, studying for a Masters in Disability Studies, Year 1 Certificate.
I witness disability on a daily basis, from a personal, work and educational lens, while structured, environmental and attitudinal barriers are still alive and kicking.
Please spread happiness and security for those very people with intellectual disabilities, while reversing this closure for good. The very last thing disabled people want is to have no service whatsoever, coupled with an ever diminishing voice.
No experience is richer than that which derives from the lived experience of disabled persons.
Please address this concern with the utmost urgency.