The following might read like a work of fiction to some but it’s indicative of the farce that is the destruction of protection for those experiencing discrimination in Irish society.
The Strategic Plan for the Equality Authority 2009 – 2011 was launched today – this is following the implementation of a 43% budget cut and decimation by decentralisation (including bringing in new staff to replace people who wish to stay but can’t move). I got a message to say that John Waters was invited to the launch – John Waters who spent 10 years deriding the work of the Authority including this obituary published only last month. An invitation to a Dementor to come and circle his prey, only this one was is very visible to muggles. Presumably Departmental officials in attendance were also joining in the wake.
After an introduction by John Fitzgerald from the ESRI which outlined the impact of the recession on people with disabilities and younger people with few or no qualifications, the Chairperson of the Authority, Dr. Angela Kerins launched into a defence of the indefensible. She included a bit of a dig, presumably at over 60 NGO’s in the Equality and Rights Alliance, members of political parties, and former members of Equality Authority board and staff including the former CEO, Niall Crowley.
The Board of the Equality Authority recognises and appreciates fully its responsibility to ensure an independent, efficient and effective Authority that will provide a quality service provision while achieving value for money. We are confident that through effective use of resources and a ‘can do’ attitude, we can fully deliver on the ambitions set out in this Plan. This is a very important point as there have been a number of misleading comments that the Authority is either defunct or ineffective. These misleading statements have caused grave uncertainty for those experiencing discrimination at this very moment. On behalf of the Authority I want to assure everyone that the Authority is very much open for business and eager to pursue equality with vigour and determination.
Calls to the authority for information and the number of case files in the first two months of this year are the same level as last year yet the authority has half the budget and less and very inexperienced staff. So what sort of magic do the board intend to perform to operate the strategic plan and meet the increasing need for support? (Acting CEO, Richard Fallon outlined further details on how the plan will be implemented.)
Dr. Kerins also called for an increased base of support to help the authority do it’s work – given that the supporting cast has been decimated and all the cheerleaders are calling foul it’s going to be a bit difficult – maybe that’s why she’s calling in John Waters. Who next AMEN? Libertas?
When one NGO attempted to ask a question at the launch they were admonished with a reference to it being against policy to allow questions at launches and an implication to a good news story being desired while the media were present. (No messing with the storyline!)
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern later met with the board of the Authority to no doubt determine the outline for the next chapter in the fairytale.
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