Speak Up & Be Heard
On Monday 15th April at 8pm in the Arklow Bay Hotel, people with disabilities and their family members will have a chance to come face to face with their public representatives to outline how disability issues affect them and to hear what actions the government are currently taking in relation to supporting people with disabilities in Wicklow and nationally.
This is a rare opportunity for people with disabilities and their families in County Wicklow to come together to raise issues in person with your Local TDs and hear their position on issues such as supports for people with disabilities in health, education, welfare and other areas of concern.
The public meeting has been organised by Miriam Murphy of Arklow Disability Access Group (ADAG) and Lorraine Dempsey Wicklow Parent Liaison for the Special Needs Parents Association. “We need to be counted and to be heard locally as well as nationally”, said Miriam Murphy who is a wheelchair user and former Mayor of Arklow. “People with disabilities themselves feel like they have no right to speak up or might ‘Rock the boat’ and loose what little supports they have if any at all. We have a dis-connect between organisations supposed to represent us at national level who are at risk of becoming part of the system that is stripping away our independence rather that facilitating its growth. Local politicians need to hear first-hand how their decisions affect people with disabilities in their constituencies, which is something that may not come across strong enough in a letter or email and we hope that this Q & A Forum will provide that opportunity”.
Lorraine Dempsey who is also Chairperson of the national organisation for parents of children with special needs said that parents are left in turmoil and exhausted with fighting ‘The System’ and only trying to do the best for their child. “We have a habit of being very short sighted when it comes to planning and funding supports for families and people with disabilities in this country. We can’t continue to look at issues in isolation from each other anymore. Parents are unduly stressed and often have to give up work long term to support their child’s needs which could be lessened if the right interventions were put in place from the beginning. If we want to encourage children to have a more productive role in society as they grow up, we need the right supports. This is not just about investing in our own child’s future, but the whole family and society as a whole. Everyone knows that the systems we have are often self-serving and we need our public representatives to fully understand that what officials may be telling them is working, isn’t borne out by people’s reality on the ground, they need to hear it from us”.
The public meeting ‘Speak Up & Be Heard’ will be attended by Andrew Doyle TD, Simon Harris TD and Deputy Billy Timmons and chaired by Declan Meehan of East Coast FM.
For more information contact Miriam Murphy, Arklow Disability Action Group on 087 7571040 or Lorraine Dempsey, Wicklow Parent Liaison Special Needs Parents Association 087 7741917