Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed Wednesday’s successful Dáil vote in support of a Sinn Féin motion backing Section 39 workers and organisations. The government suffered another defeat.
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday Teachta Adams praised those many organisations in Louth that rely on Section 39 workers and welcomed the defeat of the Government which had opposed the motion.
Teachta Adams said:
“The Sinn Féin motion maps out the key elements of a long term strategy for Section 39 users based on equality, and for the protection of Section 39 employees in this not-for-profit sector known which so many citizens depend upon.
“The 1916 Proclamation states that the Republic guarantees ‘equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation … cherishing all the children of the nation equally.’
“It doesn’t say except for those who have a disability or for those who need healthcare or those who suffer from mental health issues. It doesn’t say that bankers, landlords and insurance companies should have extra rights. But of course, we don’t have a republic based on the Proclamation.
“In this State Citizens with a disability suffer from higher levels of poverty. They will have to fight for public services they should be entitled to. They survive on the lowest annual average disposable income. This situation has been made worse by years of service cutbacks and lack of service provision.
“Section 39 organisations provide essential services. The Walkpeer programme in Louth, for example, which enables young people with a disability to access opportunities in education, training and employment, has had to constantly fight for funding and resources.
“Respite services for Louth have been a constant battleground as the need has increased while the necessary resources have not ever been provided.
“In February 2013 the Fine Gael/Labour government scrapped the Mobility Allowance Scheme and the Motorised Transport Grants. That was almost seven years ago. It still hasn’t been replaced. In September the government published its legislative programme for the autumn session. Nowhere does it even reference the Health Transport Support Bill which is supposed to plug the gap left by the 2013 decision.
“There are 600,043 citizens in this State with a disability. That’s 13.5% of the population. Louth has a higher than average percentage of citizens with a disability at almost 14%. The Section 39 public sector provides an indispensible service for citizens with disabilities, as well as for the elderly, the young, those suffering substance abuse, or at risk of suicide and they are the backbone of community development projects.
“Groups in County Louth that are Section 39 based include SOSAD which deals with citizens at risk from suicide, Louth Age Friendly, Dundalk Parents and Friends of the Intellectually Disabled, and the Louth Community Drug and Alcohol Team.
“Without their dedication and commitment many people would fall through the cracks into even worse dire circumstances.
“This motion seeks to effectively resolve the many difficulties currently within the Section 39 sector.
“It is demanding that the government produce a long term strategy and vision for the sector.
“It is calling for a long overdue review of current legislative provisions governing the relationship between the state and the almost two thousand organisations that make up the Section 39 sector.
“It also makes the case for an end to the unequal pay terms that exist between Section 38 and 39 organisations. This must be a priority.
“Our responsibility as legislators must be to ensure that citizens with disabilities, and all those who rely on section 39 services, are able to play a full and independent part in all aspects of life.”