Thomas Pringle TD

Thomas Pringle: Government Must Listen To Persons With Disabilities

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, brought opinions of persons with disabilities to the Dáil today, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, taken from responses to a survey he launched recently.

Deputy Pringle said: “We all know the budget for disability services and the work that is being done for persons with disabilities. But it is not enough. There are people being left behind. Ignored. Neglected. I’m asking that you listen. Listen to their voices.”

During Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, Deputy Pringle also paid tribute to the late activist Frank Larkin, as he called attention to buildings in Donegal that will light up for #PurpleLights20 for the international day. He said Gary Kearney had contacted him in October and asked for his assistance in bringing the campaign about.

“My friend and well-known, outstanding disability activist, Frank Larkin, had been due to help Gary with the campaign for Donegal but sadly, Frank passed away earlier this year,” Deputy Pringle said. “I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge Frank Larkin and the great advocacy work he had done in his lifetime for people with disabilities.”

Deputy Pringle read into the record comments he had received from people with disabilities in response to the online survey he launched last Friday, Your Day Your Say.

He said: “In the spirit of ‘nothing about us without us’, I wanted to give persons with disabilities an opportunity to have their say.” From some of the responses he read out today:

“As someone who acquired disability in my 20s and now a wheelchair user I think that is what will surprise people most. Most people assume if this happens you will be supported by government in fact you are not.”

“It’s demoralising to watch this government allocate millions to bail out the FAI and most recently grant millions to the greyhound industry but if you have a disability you are not supported.”

“There needs to be legislation introduced to force businesses to become accessible & have appropriate toilet facilities. This is a human rights & dignity issue.”

In the survey, Deputy Pringle also asked what needs to change, and read out these responses today:

“They need to act not just sign Conventions and then ignore the principles. They know the disabled are stuck at home & couldn’t even get to a protest which makes the State all the more hypocritical.”

“To treat all our children equally and provide the same opportunities to all including those with additional needs” 

Deputy Pringle asked: “Tánaiste, will you ratify the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so that persons with disabilities can make complaints to the UN if and when they want to?”

Deputy Pringle said he will collect all the responses to his survey in a document and send it to the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Ministers O’Gorman and Rabbitte. He offered his thanks to everyone who took part in the survey and also thanked Liam Ward, director of community development and planning services with Donegal County Council, for supporting the call for #PurpleLights20.

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