April 12, 2024
Sinn Féin welcome scrapping of disability Green Paper – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD and Pauline Tully TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability, Pauline Tully TD, and spokesperson on Social Protection, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, have welcomed the decision to scrap the Green Paper on Disability Reform.

They said the Tory-like proposals were always a non-runner, and that the government’s abysmal consultation process was another sign that they are out of touch, out of ideas, and that it is time for a general election.

Teachta Tully said:

“Sinn Féin had grave reservations about the government’s Green Paper and consistently called for it to be binned.

“There were huge concerns that the proposals would follow the British model, forcing people with disabilities into unsuitable work with the risk of sanction. 

“The consultation process was abysmal and demonstrated a lack of respect by government for people with disabilities.

“While the current disability payments system is not fit for purpose, the Green Paper was not the answer – it would have exacerbated existing problems.

“Low levels of employment and the extra cost of disability compound the need for urgent system change to ensure people don’t fall further below the poverty line but the proposals wrongfully conflated the cost of disability with employment and capacity to work.

“In many cases where disabled people are in employment, they are held back by educational barriers and are in low paid jobs with little prospect of progression. Their ability to lift themselves out of poverty through employment is limited by the current system.

“The proposals also assumed that the more severe the disability, the higher the cost to the individual. The reality is the cost of disability varies on many other factors.

“Creating a link between the cost of disability and employment suggests people with disabilities are not trying hard enough to find employment, leading to fears that these proposals were similar to the British welfare reforms so negatively affecting disabled people.”

Teachta Ó Laoghaire added:

“The Green Paper was not fit for purpose and the entire consultation was mishandled. We now need new proposals co-designed by people with disabilities – ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ is their justified demand.

“The proposal for a tiering model was worrying, with people assessed as Tier 3 required to engage with Intreo and take up reasonable offers of employment and training.  While the government said no one would be sanctioned or face payment cuts, there was real concern that the structure would lead to that. 

“These Tory-like proposals were never a runner.

“People with disabilities want to access employment. It is more than just income, it opens social possibilities and yields a feeling of self-worth. But people have wide-ranging needs and requirements, and the Green Paper did nothing to remove barriers to work.

“Employer attitudes must change and barriers preventing disabled people from gaining and retaining meaningful work must be addressed before contemplating other reforms.

“There were some proposals which could have been positive – we welcomed that higher rates of disability payments were being considered. 

“A single system properly designed could make sense but any new system of assessment must be based on a social/rights model of disability in line with the UNCRPD.

“While reform of the current system is badly needed, we need to get this right and the Green Paper failed to do so.

“We must now see the conversation move to the cost of disability and delivering a cost of disability payment. This cost is very real and must be addressed. 

“We must also look at how we ensure we remove obstacles to employment. People with disabilities are at a much greater risk of poverty, and urgent action is needed to address that.”

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