Key updates from a busy week at ILMI:
ILMI delegation meets with Ministers O’Gorman and Rabbitte
The photo shows a screenshot from the meeting with Ministers and Department Officials.
On Wednesday 26th August, an ILMI delegation comprised of our Chairperson Des Kenny, Director Selina Bonnie, and staff member James Casey met virtually with Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman and Junior Minister with Responsibility for Disability Anne Rabbitte and their departmental officials and staff. This was a vital first meeting for ILMI as a national disabled person's organisation (DPO), to forge a relationship with the Ministers and officials of the newly established Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, to ensure we can influence the development of policy over the lifetime of the new government.
The ILMI delegation brought three key areas of discussion to the virtual meeting. These included:
- Representation: A Disabled Persons Organisation
Firstly, we introduced our work and ethos that is instilled within us as a grassroots DPO. We provided an overview of the history of the movement and discussed the values and mission of ILMI. We talked at length about the differences between a true DPO and a service provider, emphasising that disabled people need, and indeed demand, to be consulted about any policy or social issues that directly, or indirectly, will affect our lives.
A core part of the ILMI delegation’s message to the Ministers and officials was how our work is framed in the social model of disability, as opposed to the medical/charity model promoted by disability service providers, who portray disabled people as “vulnerable” or needing to be “looked after”. We reiterated that this is unacceptable and untrue. ILMI emphasized that we represent disabled people from across the country, who actively participate in all aspects of our work, giving us the authentic, diverse voice of disabled people.
- Personal Assistance Services
The importance of a PAS was highlighted to the Ministers and their officials. We clarified how PAS is not wholly about securing a service but is about choice, independence and empowerment, and a vital piece of the Independent Living jigsaw. ILMI emphasized how a PAS service makes economic as well as social sense in that it enables disabled people to take up employment thereby contributing at multiple levels to the economy.
- Appropriate use of Language
The need for officials to be educated with regard to appropriate language and imagery relating to disabled people and to instil a clear understanding of the social rights model within them was also highlighted by ILMI. For example, the use of the term ‘patient’ in the Programme for Government in the first sentence of the section on Disability was wholly unacceptable when used in relation to disabled people. How this could be delivered to the departmental officials and how we as an organisation could help shape this and it's delivery from a social model of disability perspective was also discussed briefly.
Discussions also centered on the intersectionality of disability and disabled people. ILMI spoke about how disabled people are a variety of identifies and are a diverse and vibrant group of people. We referenced our Women’s Group, the Youth Collective, and how we offer technical support to Full Spectrum, the Disabled LGBTI+ group. It was mentioned to the Ministers that we support different disabled groups not because of a tick box exercise, but because one of our core values is recognizing and supporting the diversity of disabled people on a cross-impairment basis. Both Ministers were keen to engage with the Youth Collective in the near future particularly as their Departmental brief includes youth affairs.
ILMI also brought to the Ministers attention the work we have been doing over the last six months, and how we have used technology to create innovative ways to ensure the active participation of disabled people across the country during the COVID-19 lockdown. We highlighted how we created and supported a multitude of virtual spaces, based on our experience of rolling out the ONSIDE project.
- Conclusions and Follow-Up
The Ministers and officials were keen to learn of our vibrant and imaginative online spaces, which illustrated the adaptability and creativity of disabled people. This was in contrast to the wholly pessimistic media, and indeed governmental, representation of disabled people as ‘vulnerable’ or all in need of ‘cocooning’. Instead, disabled people and ILMI built and expanded upon the strength of our membership and the wider collective to create and foster online spaces that are far from the negativity that is purported to surround disabled people. The Ministers and officials were interested in the work we have been doing with our ONSIDE project and how we have taken a social inclusion approach to the project with an emphasis on choice and empowerment for disabled people. The project is a unique enterprise in the country and has been a success so far, and we emphasized how our work has not slowed with the COVID-19 pandemic but rather has found a new energy.
Finally, ILMI’s Chairperson requested that ILMI, as a DPO, be the go-to organisation that the department consults with when any policy decisions are being considered. We highlighted that we have the networks and active membership of disabled people to place us in a unique position, as a grassroots DPO, to be the conduit of authentic disabled voices.
Guidance on the Provision/Resumption of PAS
The Ministers and their departmental staff were very engaged with the discussion and we do thank them for the opportunity and reiterated that we hope this meeting will be the beginning of a positive relationship. The Ministers will be in contact with ILMI about meeting with the Youth Collective and about the disability equality training for officials in the near future. Additionally, ILMI will send the Ministers our collective’s response to the Special Committee on COVID-19 as they are keen to read it and also more information about our PAS Now campaign.
ILMI felt that it was a positive, vibrant, and productive first meeting between ILMI and the department, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen the alliance in the months ahead.
The photo shows a screenshot from Friday's online consultation
Today (Friday) ILMI met with the National Disability Quality Improvement team in the HSE on writing guidance for the provision/resumption of Personal Assistance Services for disabled people in line with COVID - 19 restrictions. Leaders came together today via zoom to feed in what were the main issues facing them during the pandemic and guided the HSE on what should be in guidance going forward for our PAS in line with COVID restrictions. Today was an initial meeting and it is hoped that leaders can feed into follow up meetings in the coming weeks.
If you are interested in being involved in this group please email your details to email@example.com
PAS Now Campaign
The photo shows the text PAS NOW! Secure your local authorities' support!
We are currently working with a number of Local Authorities to ensure our Right to Personal Assistance Services (PAS) is supported at a local level. This follows on from our #PASNOW campaign, which saw Deputy Thomas Pringle bring a historic Motion before the Dail in 2019 requesting support for our right to PAS. As we are aware that Motion got unanimous support at national level and we are now working to ensure that similar support is secured at a local level.
With over one-third of local authorities now having passed the Motion ILMI are pressing ahead with securing all Local Authorities support. If you would like to work with us to ensure your Council is actively supporting your right to PAS in 2020 then do let us know and we will be happy to assist you. You can contact Susan by email or by calling 086 1712648 for further information.