The 600,000 disabled people and their families across this country do not consider that they were protected or that they were the priority social justice area over the past four years. I have recently written to both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste Joan Burton about this. I have also written “Recovery must be felt by those with disabilities” in the Irish Times on 25th February.
Our economy is recovering, but the policies that have worked for many people have not for disabled people. They and their families have been left behind in this period of economic recovery.
The financial uncertainty of recent years has brought constant worry and fear to disabled people and their families. We were not protected in the recession and we are being side-lined as our economy is recovering.
The Government is predicting full employment by 2018, but that is for people who are not disabled. As yet the much promised "comprehensive employment strategy” for disabled people has not seen the light of day. Disabled people have no hope of getting into employment, and in some cases are not even entitled to participate in employment activation programmes. This needs to change.
We have been landed with 'promises' since 2008 - we now need to hear about concrete and fully funded delivery from this Government in their final year in power. The outcomes of these plans need to be experienced by people with disabilities in every village, town and city in this country.
Across the disability movement there is deep and justified concern that the economic recovery will not address our long standing exclusion. This is our simple and straightforward position.
Now is the time to be active and to engage with the politicians. We see others putting down markers for tax cuts or pay increases. We need to be active in the election “market place” and clearly make the point that as people with disabilities we are resolved that there will be "No Recovery Without Us." Each one of us, each family and every organisation needs to be out and active from now on.
The “economic” recovery will continue as it is going unless we succeed in turning it into one that includes people with disabilities. Otherwise it is more of what we have been experiencing for the past seven years.