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Thursday, 9thFebruary 2012
IRISH MAN TO TELL EUROPEAN PARLIMANET MEETING OF IMPACT OF AUSTERITY CUTS ON PEOPLE WITH A DISABILITY
The Chairperson of the Centre for Independent Living, Michael McCabe, will today (9.02.12) address a hearing of the European Parliament into the impact which austerity cuts are having on people with disabilities. The hearing will take place at 3pm in room A1G2 of the European Parliament building.
Michael McCabe, who is a wheelchair user, will outline how people with disabilities in Ireland are being particularly affected. Speaking in advance of his presentation, Mr McCabe said: “The Irish Government, in order to raise money to pay interest on the loan given by the EU/IMF, is targeting the vulnerable. On a daily basis, people with disabilities are being stripped of rights and services that enable us to participate fully in our community and wider society. The loss of personal assistance hours means that many of us cannot leave our homes and loss in other supports has left us at risk of greater poverty and exclusion.
“These cuts contravene the European Disability Strategic Plan which has the general objective of eliminating of discrimination on the grounds of disability. It also seeks to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for persons with disabilities as well as their active inclusion. Right now, many of us feel like we are being robbed of the rights and freedoms,” he said.
Evidence shows that even before the current financial crisis, people with disabilities were among the most marginalised and excluded groups in Europe. A total of 62 per cent of Europeans with disabilities are among the poorest persons in Europe. As opposed to 69 per cent of Europeans who have a job, only 29 per cent of disabled people are in employment. While 18 per cent of all Europeans go to university, the figure for people with disabilities is only 9 per cent.
The centre for Independent Living believes that – if austerity cuts continue to impact on people with disabilities – these indicators will continue to deteriorate.
Today’s hearing will present the impact cuts in public spending have had on services for persons with disabilities in the EU using results gathered through the EDF Observatory of the Crisis. The second part of the hearing will aim to identify actions that can be taken by the European Commission and the European Parliament to address this situation and ensure that the rights of disabled people in the EU are upheld.
Michael McCabe said that, in addition to detailing the impact of cuts on people with disabilities in Ireland, he also intended raising the failure by the Irish Government to ratify an important convention relating to disability. “The Irish Government hasn’t even had the moral decency to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, one of the most significant Human Rights instruments in recent years. Pressure needs to be brought to bear on the Irish State to immediately ratify the UN Convention and, over the coming month; we will be pressing harder to ensure this happens,” he said.