Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

‘Turning Inclusion into a Reality’

October 31st, 2011 · 3 Comments · Disability, Equality, Irish Politics, Social Policy, Trot for the ARAS 2011

Picture by Shauneen Armstrong

In his interview with Bryan Dobson on Saturday evening, the President Elect mentioned his intention to visit institutions, including those which are normally closed.

This mention in the interview nearly made me reach for the tissues again. It was one of the challenges I laid before him last month during the meeting on the the theme of equality where I was proud to endorse his candidature.

After Mary Robinson was elected in 1990 visits by her to local communities and excluded groups often resulted in local authorities and others resurfacing roads and improving amenities. I hope that the same does not happen to the closed spaces that President Higgins visits. Perhaps he should perform the closing ceremonies, rather than only opening new homes, ‘units’ and facilities and new lives. Recognising the past and marking the end is as important as moving on.

Inclusive citizenship is not merely about recognition and naming of the discrimination and hiding of ‘others’ in our country. It must be about change and not merely bearing witness. For people with disabilities this change has been extremely slow and very hidden. There is no statutory regulation or inspection of the spaces where people live or exist. There is also no protection for whistle-blowers. Altering the attitudes of staff and sometimes families to the need for change and quality services and choices and rights is as big a barrier as the structural and organisational difficulties which present themselves.

I’m not expecting (nor do I want!) a Princess Diana doing secret visits in our new president, but someone who puts his words into action and encourages those who are trying to change things for the better and names the exclusion and the rights to be truly included.

It must be accompanied by action by the government in introducing the Mental Capacity Bill, ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with disabilities and implementing the recommendations of the Congregated Settings report and also A Vision for Change.

In 2011 we have to stop making excuses, this is not about money, austerity or the IMF. It is about the dignity of the person, of many people and their families. A dignity recognised by the election of Michael D who truly understands equality and human rights and didn’t use it as a badge of convenience to get elected.

PS Many thanks to those people who have approached me in person or by email over the past few weeks saying how much they’ve enjoyed the blog. I sometimes forget people read this whom I don’t know or have never met. Thanks for the encouraging words, they are much appreciated.



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