SWAN Ireland Statement on the Review of Transport Solutions for People with Disabilities

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08/04/2013

SWAN Ireland is concerned that the current public consultation process for the review of transport support is divisive, objectionable and against all moral and ethical standards.

This consultation, in our view, is an attempt by the Irish Government to deny people with disabilities and older persons their rights to mobility & accessibly which includes a right to ‘freedom of movement’, ‘freedom of association’, and the fundamental right of ‘freedom of self-determination’.

The department of health outlines “Key considerations for any new solution” which are outlined below:

1.   What are the highest priority transport needs?

2.   Which people face most difficulties in getting to where they need to go?

3.   What should the eligibility criteria be?

4.   Should support be in the form of access to transport services rather than individual cash payments?

5.   How often should qualification be reviewed?

Outlining these 5 areas as “key considerations” is the Irish Governments attempt to squeeze a rights-based mobility/transport scheme into narrow parameters as a cost-cutting ‘austerity’ cut back. We know that government ministers have stated it would be “too costly” to provide a transport support that complies with equality legislation[1] [2]. And we know that the government have advised that they intend only continue to “ring-fence” the 10.6 million euro they had been providing for transport services up until now[3]. These statements, along with the narrow parameters given for the review of the transport scheme, clearly shows that the government is not willing to give the rights of people with disabilities and older persons a means of mobility and transport as required by law. Instead of approaching this issue through a human rights and legislative lens, the government are putting economic considerations ahead of the public good.

SWAN Ireland is clear that this move is linked to the wider systemic attack on marginalised and oppressed populations in Ireland. We know that the state has a history of conveniently ignoring the law when it comes to people’s rights and healthcare needs in this country[4] [5] [6]. The incidents of racist attacks[7] on marginalised groups such as asylum seekers[8] and travellers[9] are increasing. The vilification of people availing of the welfare system (lone parents[10], unemployed people[11] and persons with disabilities[12] for example) are also abundant. SWAN Ireland believes that these issues are all interconnected and are being used by the state as a means to begin to cut back and detrimentally change our welfare state.

For the past year, SWAN Ireland has been involved in supporting and working with many of the groups being targeted by government cuts. We will continue to work alongside these groups to fight back against the growing tide of these cuts. We will continue to work towards a society that has egalitarian ideals at its core. We will continue to stand in solidarity with every person detrimentally affected by continued austerity and growing cuts to services.

The public consultation of the Department of Health Review of Transport Solutions for people with Disabilities can be found here: http://www.dohc.ie/consultations/open/Mobility_Allowance/

To contact us please email: socialworkactionnetworkireland@gmail.com or find us on facebook: http://tinyurl.com/a7zobo9

[1] http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/0227/369771-mobility/

[2] http://www.irishtimes.com/news/having-lost-the-argument-department-changes-tack-1.1315994

[3] http://www.newstalk.ie/reader/47.301.344/6379/0/

[4] http://www.ombudsman.gov.ie/en/News/Media-Releases/2013-Media-Releases/Discontinuation-of-Mobility-Allowance-and-Motorised-Transport-Grant.html

[5] http://www.ombudsman.gov.ie/en/Publications/Investigation-Reports/HSE-Nursing-Homes/Who-Cares/Executive-Summary.pdf

[6] http://www.magdalenelaundries.com/

[7] http://www.thejournal.ie/integration-centre-calls-for-legislation-on-hate-crimes-as-racism-figures-rise-748325-Jan2013/

[8] http://www.irishrefugeecouncil.ie/news/irish-refugee-council-raises-concern-for-safety-of-residents-following-attacks-on-refugee-accommodation/1799

[9] http://www.oireachtasbrief.ie/people/ministers-state/attacks-on-travellers/

[10] http://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/colette-browne/facts-about-lone-parents-rubbish-claims-they-abuse-welfare-system-217380.html

[11] http://www.thejournal.ie/jobseekers-have-benefits-cut-for-not-accepting-work-or-training-offers-575419-Aug2012/

[12] http://www.fiannafail.ie/news/entry/9273/

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