Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has responded to the long-awaited publication of the Cost of Disability report.
Teachta Wynne said:
“The Indecon Report, which examined the cost of having a disability in Ireland and the implications for public policy, was commissioned by the Department of Social Protection in 2019.
“It was commissioned as part of the growing understanding that people living with disabilities faced disproportionate financial burden.
“In Ireland, people with disabilities have some of the worst metrics in terms of employment, fuel poverty, deprivation and general financial security, not to mention that Ireland is also one of the most expensive states in the EU in terms of Housing Heating and Lighting.
“All of this is compounding people’s circumstances and situations, making everyday life more challenging to navigate.
“The delay in the publication of this report exposes how the rights of people living with disabilities are not a priority of this government.
“The formation of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth seemed like a positive development back in 2020. However, it has not amounted to any real concrete changes in the lives of people living with disabilities.
“The transfer of the portfolio has been as clear as mud, meanwhile, people with disabilities wait in limbo.
“Legally, although Ireland has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, opting out of the Optional Protocol has meant that no one can hold the government to account in how they are vindicating or abusing these rights.
“This is another delay that appears acceptable to this government as they have not prioritised the simple ratification of the Optional Protocol, which would allow citizens to complain of rights-abuse with the UN, a lengthy process that requires time.
“Therefore this delay is significantly holding our people back, inevitably incurring further and longer delays for our people, leaving them with no hope.
“People with disabilities still face extra and hidden costs, in terms of transport, supports and health-related costs. Knowing this, and no exceptions to be made for those at-risk of poverty, this FF/FG and Green Party government steam-rolled ahead the introduction of Carbon Tax, which will impact on these individuals the most.
“They are our most vulnerable and should not be scraping by or made to choose between essentials such as heating or food. It is shameful.
“This report has been critically missing in terms of how government respond to the support needs of people with disabilities up until this point. The fact that it was published two months after the Budget was announced is very telling.
“Lack of joined up thinking between the Department of Finance who govern primary medical certificates, the Department of Social Protection who coordinate Disability Allowance, the Department of Health, which are responsible for the provision of most disability services has meant that the approach is still piecemeal and reactionary.
“We need to move away from a historical disempowering and paternalistic approach to supporting people with disabilities. We need to move toward a right-based and person-centred approach.
“I will be following up with the relevant ministers on how the findings of the Cost of Disability report are going to be applied moving forward and keeping a close eye on this pattern of delay and dismiss that is oozing from this current government.”