Our Voice Our Vote
Photo shows Our Voice Our Vote Poster for Clare
In the lead up to the General Election on Saturday we have been busy hosting events across the country to provide disabled people, their families, friends and supporters with an opportunity to meet with their #GE2020 candidates and put disability rights back on the agenda. A huge thank you to the candidates who took the time out of their campaigning schedules to sit with us and listen to the issues raised by disabled people themselves within their constituencies. Thanks also to the individuals and organisations who worked directly with us to rollout these events across each area. They genuinely displayed the need for us all to work together if we are to have our voices heard and a movement toward recognition of our rights as equal citizens within society.
The first Our Vote Our Voice hustings took place in Clare on January 30th. Delegates packed into the Temple Gate for a lively discussion on disability issues with twelve of the candidates contesting the Clare constituency. The overwhelming message from the day was that those with the lived experience need to be both heard and listened to at every level of policy and service development "There is a huge difference between disabled people and the sector. We need you as candidates to listen to us the people who have the solutions - not paid staff in large state funded bodies". This sentiment was echoed by Minister Joe Carey who called for the appointment of a full Minister for Disability who could build on the momentum arising from the Motion on PAS, which was unanimously passed by the Dail in November.
Photo shows some of the candidates and participants at the Clare Hustings.
On February 4th people gathered in Letterkenny to meet with their Donegal election candidates. Organised in partnership with Donegal CIL the event saw seven candidates listen to representation from across the disability sector. Deputy Thomas Pringle pushed for progression of the Motion on PAS, which he brought before the Dail in November, to enable disabled people to finally access PAS as a right. Senator Padraig MacLoughlin also called for the voices of disabled people and their families to be laid out before decision makers and for those that are failing us to be held to account.
Photo shows Donegal candidates with some of the attendees and organisers from DCIL.
Photo shows Galway East candidates at the hustings in Loughrea.
Galway East candidates gathered in the Loughrea Hotel to listen to representations from individuals from across all disability areas. Hosted in conjunction with the IWA the event saw six of the twelve candidates listen to a number of hard hitting testimonies from both disabled people and their families. Green Party Candidate Eoin Madden called for a stop on reliance on charity and instead for disabled people to be given a real voice in the system with choice and control over their lives. Pledges were given by all candidates to improve supports and services for disabled people.
Photo shows Galway West Candidate Niall O'Tuathaill with Galway Activism Members.
The previous evening saw Galway West candidates invited to the Connacht Hotel. It was disappointing to see only two candidates attend an event that was one of the first hustings scheduled for the constituency. Niall O'Tuathail of the Social Democrats took the time to listen to attendees. Speaking afterwards Niall expressed his belief that people are perfect just the way they are and it is society and our communities that we need to change. Galway City Mayor and candidate Mike Cubbard pledged his ongoing support for the independent living movement and in particular the progression of the Motion on our right to PAS, which he had also proposed at local authority level. Joining delegates post meeting Deputy Hildegarde Naughton also expressed her support for the movement and the importance of listening to and understanding the independent voice of the lived experience.
Photo shows some of the participants and canidates from the Sligo hustings.
Sligo's hustings was a partnership approach between Inclusion Ireland, DFI and ILMI. Chaired by Peter Kearns the hustings saw all candidates embrace the UNCRPD's call to talk directly with disabled activists and Disabled Peoples Organisations (DPOs).
Photo shows some of the Cork election candidates with attendees at the Cork hustings event.
Cork election candidates Jerry Buttimer, Colm Burke (both Fine Gael), Oliver Moran and Colette Finn (Both Green Party), Mick Barry (Solidarity Party) and Tony Fitzgerald (Fianna Fail) gathered in the Glen Resource Centre to meet disability activists. Organised in partnership with Cork CIL the hustings focused on issues such as Personal Assistance, Employment, Accessible Transportation, Universally designed homes and the built environment and ratification of the optional protocol for the UNCRPD. A positive discussion was held with commitments from all parties to continue consultations and discussion directly with people with the lived experience post election day.