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Fiona McLoughlin-Healy – Why we have to highlight the issues for people with disability

Disability matters to me. Let’s hope whoever represents Kildare South after February 8 feels the same.

Obviously we are all fighting a similar battle.

  • A battle for services
  • A battle for assessment
  • A battle for support
  • A battle for equal education
I have used my voice as a public representative to highlight issues for people with disability.

I am also an auntie to my nephew Tomás who has spastic quadriplegia and I know the difficulties and battle faced by both him and his parents on a daily basis. You can follow Tomás journey here. 

I have been an advocate and board member for Sensational Kids highlighting these work that they do for children with autism and other learning needs off waiting lists for Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy and other services.

I worked for Cerebral Palsy Ireland and was tasked with managing the national rebranding to Enable Ireland and ensured that at all times the voice of our service users was front and centre in the rebranding of the organisation.

I was a founder member of the South Kildare Educate Together (SKET) campaign for a new school to address the need for additional school places including the need for ASD classrooms for children with autism.

I wish to publicly give my support to The Disability Action Coalition and commit to ensuring that their asks are included in the next Programme for Government.

They are looking to:

  • Reverse the €20m cut which the HSE is planning to make to the 2020 disability budget, which will hit services severely
  • Resolve the problem of deficits being faced by Section 39-funded disability services – this will cost €20m a year.
  • Restore pay fully to Section 39 disability service providers.
  • Implement the important recommendations of the Independent Review Group chaired by Dr Catherine Day, which called for a new way of working with and funding organisations like these.

The Coalition is made up of nine disability service providers who together employ 9000 staff and provide services to tens of  thousands of people with disability, all across the country.

The organisations involved are: Irish Wheelchair Association, Enable Ireland, National Council for the Blind in Ireland, MS Ireland, the Rehab Group, Cheshire Ireland, Chime, Headway and Acquired Brain Injury Ireland. These organisations are now in crisis, because of underfunding – this much change.

So both my heart and mind are with people with disabilities. Thank you to Disability Federation of Ireland for drawing my attention to their fantastic campaign and to KARE and The Muiriosa Foundation for an informative and at times emotional briefing from people with disabilities and their families last week.

SEE ALSO – Independent Kildare South candidate Fiona McLoughlin-Healy – a track record of putting constituents first