ILMI eBulletin ILMI eBulletin 23rd of June 2023

ILMI Logo Independent Living Movement Ireland. Freedom Rights Empowerment
ILMI was delighted to attend the launch of the ‘Housing Strategy for Disabled People Implementation Plan’.
IMAGE: photo shows Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth with special responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte TD speaking at the launch of the implementation plan, onstage with Housing Agency Ceo Bob Jordan and Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with responsibility for Local Government and Planning Kieran O’Donnell TD

Consisting of 107 actions the implementation plan sets out the government’s vision for delivering housing and related supports for disabled people to 2027.

It will support the primary objective of the strategy which is to facilitate disabled people to live independently with the appropriate choices and control over where, how and with whom they live, promoting their inclusion in the community.

The National Housing Strategy for Disabled People was developed by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Department of Health and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. The Strategy is part of the Government’s Housing for All plan, which sets out specific measures to achieve a steady supply of housing in the right locations with economic, social and environmental sustainability built into the system. The 107 actions in the Implementation Plan will be delivered by the three Departments and their agencies.

Also an awareness campaign was launched which was informed by consultation with disabled people, it will be managed by the Housing Agency, and will ensure that the Strategy and Implementation Plan are afforded a high level of visibility at local and national level in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities UNCRPD principles.

The National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022 – 2027 Implementation Plan is available at this link.

Report of the Ombudsman 2022. A Disability Rights focus.
IMAGE: The Cover of the document "Ombudsman report 2022 Driving Fairness in the Delivery of Public Service"

The recent publication of the annual Ombudsman report 2022 Driving Fairness in the Delivery of Public Service gave a comprehensive account of the complaints procedures of people living in Ireland and public services.

The word Ombudsman man is Swedish and it means ‘agent of the people.’ The Office of the Ombudsman was established in Ireland in 1984. The role of the Irish Ombudsman is to investigate complaints from people who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain providers of public services.
The areas of complaints covered the Ombudsman include:

•            Government departments
•            Local authorities
•            The Health Service Executive (HSE)
•            Public hospitals
•            Publicly-funded third level education institutions
•            Public and private nursing homes
•            Direct Provision accommodation centres.
Additionally the Ombudsman also has the ability to investigate breaches of the Disability Act 2005
This act says places a statutory obligation on public service providers to support access to services and facilities disabled people. Under the Act, disabled people are entitled to:
1.           Have their health and educational needs assessed.
2.           Have individual service statements drawn up, setting out what services they should get.
3.           Access independent complaints and appeals procedures.
4.           Access public buildings and public service employment.

There were a total of 4791 complaints made to the office and 4808 complaints were completed (some of these are from previous years. Only 20% of complaints that went on to become cases by the Ombudsman were upheld or partially upheld. 45% were not upheld and 35% were classed as ‘assistance given or signposted to other services’.

The Ombudsman dealt with only 14 cases that were directly linked to the Disability Act 2005. This represents less than 1% of all complaints but does represent an increase in over 133% on the previous year. The Office believes that the cases would be much higher if there was a greater awareness of the role of the Ombudsman.

However, Ger Deering, the current Ombudsman states emphatically:

“All too often in this country we look back at shameful things that have happened in the past and wonder how such things could have happened. We resolve never to let such things happen again and reassure ourselves that they would not happen now. Sadly, we do not appear to have learned from the past. I believe the manner in which people with disabilities continue to be denied access to personal transport supports is nothing short of shameful. People with disabilities should be able to lead full and active lives within our communities. Access to personal transport is essential to enable such participation. The Irish Government signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007, and in March 2018 the Convention was ratified. Article 9 of the UNCRPD is focused on accessibility, and puts an onus on signatories to provide access to transportation on an equal basis with others to enable people with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. 6 Office of the Ombudsman Annual Report 2022 My predecessors and myself have been investigating access to transport for people with disabilities and calling for action from Government for twelve years – since 2011. Despite this, I find myself having to once again highlight the current unfair and unacceptable situation”

In their 2021 report Grounded: Unequal access for people with disabilities to personal transport schemes The Ombudsman highlighted the critical lack of action in regards to motorised transport grants and disabled drivers and passengers. Last week (June 20th) the Minister for Finance signed new regulations that address some of these concerns. Due to the diligent work of activists such as Ann Marie Flanagan (ILMI Board Member) and Leigh Gath.

Please see the Department of Finance Press release

DPOs being the new Social Inclusion Leaders
IMAGE: photo shows a group of 10 people the Leitrim Disabled Persons Organisation workshop members including Peter Kearns in front of an audience seating area in a theatre setting. 

Leitrim Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) facilitated a workshop at Glens Arts Centre Manorhamilton to inform the consultation process for Leitrim Development Company Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) and Leader Programme 2024 – 2028

Leitrim Development Company’s (LDC) Community Worker Teresa Butler and ILMI’s DPO Development Officer Peter Kearns facilitated the drama & advocacy creative workshop with DPO members to document their lived experiences of disabling barriers in the County and how the next SICAP & Leader programmes can be led by the relevant UNCRPD Articles and strongly informed by the social model.

Teresa and Peter reminded DPO workshop participants of the recent years of social model informed community development support from ILMI and the Leitrim Development Company. This is especially evident since 2019, with the establishment and development of the Leitrim Disabled Persons Organisation (LDPO) and with its launch in December 2020 in collaboration with ILMI’s ONSIDE staff.

ILMI’s local DPO advocacy & drama group members explored how supports from Leitrim Development Company’s targeted SICAP strategies enables the progress of the local DPO through providing ongoing funding and social inclusion supports. The workshop also celebrated that even throughout COVID restrictions, in conjunction ILMI’s Leitrim ONSIDE Community Navigator and now with our DPO Development Officer, the partnership approach between ILMI and the Development Company continues to maintain and develop LDPO.

The Area Development Company has given the Leitrim DPO direct financial support from SICAP in the form of small seed grants enabling the following series of activities and events over the past few years, such as:
•            Venue and transport costs for accessible meeting spaces for Leitrim DPO
•            Disability Equality & Community Development seminar facilitated by Peter when he was DESSA Development Officer and with main speaker being Ireland’s first UN rapporteur (Maynooth University) Anastasia Crickley
•            Launch of Leitrim DPO in December 2020 in conjunction with ILMI and guest speakers Professor Colin Cameron Northumbria  University and Scottish DPO and Advocacy manager Maggie Cameron
•            Development and printing of membership recruitment leaflets with Dr. James Casey ILMI Policy Officer for the Leitrim DPO Blooms Day of 2022.
•            Launch of leaflets on Blooms Day 2022 at Glens Arts Centre Manorhamilton with ‘live’ interview with Michael Harding and ILMI’s Peter Kearns – Check-out link =
•            Workshop with playwright Christian O’Reilly and Peter Kearns dramatist ILMI hosting of 2016 film ‘Sanctuary’ in the Glens Arts Centre for Leitrim and Sligo DPOs, followed by discussion and lunch

Following the breakdown of recent ILMI and Development Company supports, Teresa and Peter’s June morning workshop with local DPO members asked how would they like Leitrim Development Company work with the next SICAP & Leader strategic plans to support them over the next five years?

Leitrim DPO members were very clear throughout the Glens Centre workshop that there is a need for more frequent public bus service throughout the day and night to enable their effective community development participation, such as attending PPN Meetings, NW DPO meetings, and socializing such as meeting friends, going to the pub, activities, cinema etc.  The DPO suggested that the new SICAP and Leader plans support members who wish to pursue a driving licence to engage the NDLS (Driving License Service) to provide more accessible and alternative communications to undertake the car theory test, and to promote and encourage the possibility of disabled people having their own means of transport with reference to UNCRPD article-29. Members also asked for increased SICAP funding for Leitrim DPO for transport to out of Local-Link Bus daytime hours to attend evening activities. More flexible transports also an issue towards liaising with the County Council events and HSE disability committees and for the provision of additional travel costs similar to the Leitrim Older Persons annual grant for activities provided by Development Company staff.

Leitrim Dev. Co Teresa from. Was keen to continue working with the local DPO to identify “appropriate platforms such as the Council’s Housing Disability Strategic Group (HDSG) to promote independent living for and with disabled people”. DPO members feel it is important to say this within the current allocation of local authority housing stock and to realise at local level the UNCRPD Article-19 of living independently and being included in the community and Article-28 of ensuring equal access to appropriate and affordable services local services.

Reflecting UNCRPD Aticle-25 that health professionals should discuss health choices directly with disabled people, DPO members, Peter and Teresa pointed to the positive experience of the May 2023 ILMI facilitated Drugs and Alcohol Taskforce workshop in a Sligo community centre with the North West DPOs. This social model led workshop facilitated by ILMI’S Peter focussed in relation to the prevalence and negative effects of some impairment-label prescription drugs on disabled people

In terms of Community and political participation, relationships and independent living, the Leitrim DPO workshop participants suggested there should be supports for disabled people to proactively engage in local activities and political participation in their localities and communities. This includes engaging in relationships of their own choice and to have access to their own means and money to live as independently as they wish. ILMI’s Peter connected this local DPO wish with reference to UNCRPD Article-29 towards directing future SICAP actions in the County for and with DPO activists and the wider disabled population.

In practical terms for the Social Inclusion Community Activation Programme (SICAP) and Leader Programme 2024 – 2028, the workshop suggested that LDC could apply the social model to SICAP Goal-1 by providing disability equality led community development support and grants to DPOs for transport, venue-hire and activity costs. SICAP strategies could also work with DPOs to liaise with HSE and Leitrim County Council to increase local DPO collective access supports to events and meetings. Leitrim DPO members also identified how the next planning of SICAP Goal-2 could provide individual supports for disabled people towards education, training, employment and enterprise supports in collaboration with DPOs.

Leitrim DPO and ILMI main point on the day is the promotion from the consultation process with the Development Company that they would want the next Leader programme to develop a Leitrim Disabled Persons Strategic Plan, similar to the County’s current Migrant Strategy. DPO members would like to see such a strategic process done in consultation with DPO activists and disabled people living in Leitrim as the priority participants in a Leader Strategic Plan. ILMI’s DPO Development Officer Peter Kearns told the E-Bulletin that “Talking directly with Leitrim based disabled adults and young people would be contrary to most Area Partnerships and Leader programmes past reliance on the non-disabled professional staff medical & charity model attitudes of the disability-service sector”.

DPO members hope that such a Leitrim Leader Strategic Plan could help realise the UNCRPD at the local level in addressing barriers to effective agency towards the eventual outcome of independent living for disabled people in relation to transport, housing, health, relationships & sexuality, community and political activities. Local activists feel that it is important that this process be conducted with Leitrim DPO and ILMI as experts of the lived experience of disability. And, in communication with a broad range of disabled people that must be directly placed at the core of the proposed strategy, as with Leitrim Migrants being at the core of Leitrim Migrant Strategy.

Monday 26th June ILMI’s Nicola Meacle, one of our fantastic VOICE Community Development Workers will have a stand to share information, talk about our VOICE project and of course ILMI, at the Tipperary  regional Stroke conference in the Talbot Clonmel Park Hotel starts at 9 30am. Please feel free to say hello!

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