The Irish Context
Today there are twenty-two CILs nationwide, all established and operated by people with disabilities at a local level. All CILs are committed to ensuring that the principles of Independent Living - Choices, Rights, Empowerment and Control are embodied in all aspects of their work. CILs have a vital advocacy role in representing members and supporting them into the mainstream in all areas - e.g., in Transport, Housing, Training and Employment. Part of their remit is to broaden lifestyle choices and build expectations of individuals with disability in all kinds of areas, from foreign holiday options or cultural exchanges, to career paths etc. Many CILs also offer Personal Assistance (PA) services, funded through the HSE and/or Community Employment (CE) schemes administered by FAS.
The Economic Benefits of Independent Living to Ireland
The philosophy and realisation of Independent Living means that people with disabilities (PWD) experience life in the same way that all other citizens do.
Where Independent Living is achieved:
- PWD have an opportunity to cease social welfare payment through their potential Employment
- PWD can contribute more to the growing economy as both employees and employers
- Through employment PWD can obtain credit to purchase property etc., which in turn feeds back into the economy
- PWD can form loving relationships and families where their children will become the employees and employers of the future
- With the Personal Assistant Service, the spouse or immediate dependants of PWD has the option of entering employment - traditionally they were required to forgo such options to assist PWD.
- Personal Assistants also feed back into the economy with their taxes
- The expertise of PWD can be drawn upon by town planners and developers from the outset to design inclusive built environments - thus saving the state the considerable cost of having to adapt the built environment at a later stage. Many of these changes have positive effects for parents (with pushchairs) and elderly people in the community also.
- PWD are no longer residents in homes or institutions at the expense of the state
- State owned residential institutions can be sold and the assets accrued deployed towards other uses.