Games must alter Irish attitudes, says disability chief

GREATER awareness and acceptance of those with disabilities must be the lasting legacy of the Special Olympics World Games, according to the MD of Disability Ireland.

The mission statement of the games, which commence in Croke Park tomorrow night is: ‘to provide in Ireland a unique and unparalleled sporting and cultural experience for the athletes taking part, from 160 international delegations all over the world, as well as for their coaches, families, volunteers and sponsors, combining the excitement of sport with the opportunity for personal distinction, achievement and pride’.

However, Robert Morgan, managing director of Disability Information Ireland, is hopeful the event will have a greater impact across the entire nation and reshape existing attitudes towards those with disabilities.

“People have been a lot more vocal on the issue of disability because of the Games,” Mr Morgan said last night. “Months ago there was very little mention of the issue but in the past few weeks that has changed. We are also getting more e-mails from people in Europe and in America in relation to Ireland and the attitude towards disability and how accessible it is.”

And how accessible is Ireland?

“In my view it is adequate but it could be better,” Mr Morgan said. “The next couple of weeks are going to make people more aware of people with disabilities. But the key will be to maintain that awareness and I think it will. It has been a great achievement in getting all these people together and we must work on that.”

“The onus will also be on the Government to act on a lot of the legislation which they have brought in.”

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