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We need a rights culture in terms of basic human rights for the disabled. Thousands of people with physical disabilities do not benefit from day activity or development.
Many feel they are prisoners in their own home and do not get the supports to access what others take for granted on a daily basis. The legislation should concentrate on what they need: basic needs like education, accessible transport, respite care, residential care, aids and appliances.
For example, I had the parent of an eight-year-old child with me recently, seeking a bus pass to take the child from Midleton to a special school in Cork city. When I made enquiries, I was told a bus pass could not be approved. I am pursuing this case.
People with disabilities, their families, advocates or carers should not have to spend every day fighting an uphill battle. People should not have to take to the streets or to the courts to demonstrate that they have a right to daycare, education, training and transport, yet we regularly see people taking to the streets and organising public meetings to vindicate those rights.
More than 350,000 people in Ireland have a disability. For too long, justifiable expectations of equal access and equal rights have met a less than perfect reality. When rights are acknowledged they must be universally applied.
We have failed our people with disabilities and, in the process, seriously damaged our society.
How much talent has been wasted because people with disabilities have not given the opportunities and means to develop their gifts? Shame on us.
Cllr. Noel Collins
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