Waterford election hopeful calls on councils to improve approach to people with disabilities

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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news@waterfordlive.ie

Waterford election hopeful calls on council to improve approach to people with disabilities

Green Party candidate Marc Ó Cathasaigh

Green Party candidate for the upcoming local election in Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh, has today called on local authorities to reimagine how access to services and decision making can be improved for persons with disabilities.

The call comes in response to the Disability Federation of Ireland's recent campaign to highlight how difficult participation in community life can be for some of its members.

Mr. Ó Cathasaigh urged all local authorities, businesses and residents to support the DFI's campaign and outlined the serious challenges faced by the 13.5% of people in Ireland who are living with disabilities every day.

Speaking on the issue, Mr. Ó Cathasaigh, local election candidate in Tramore and Waterford City West said: “Everyone has a right, and a basic need, to take part in their community, and all the amenities and services that are available locally. This can include access to decent housing, safe streets, pathways to education and employment, use of public transport and, of course, access to health services that are both nearby and timely."

"We know that in Waterford only 20% of people with a disability are in full-time employment, compared to 50% in the general population, while only 17% of people with a disability complete a qualification in third level education.”

Last month, Waterford Disability Network highlighted the issue of Waterford’s new bus fleet being incompatible with certain types of wheelchairs. Mr. Ó Cathasaigh believes forward planning is needed to prevent oversights of this kind occurring again.

“All our public buildings should be accessible, there should be no website or public service that is unavailable due to a lack of forethought on the different abilities of our friends and neighbours.”

“To safeguard this principle of inclusion I have written to the local council to ask them to draft their own implementation plan for the United Nations Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities. As the Green Party has done on the issue of climate action, I believe that where national government has failed to act to protect the basic rights of those we represent local government can play an important role."

"At local level, we can choose to prioritise those in our society who need our support and solidarity the most. If elected this May I will be making the implementation of such a plan a key goal and ensuring that the opinions and input of persons with disabilities is at the heart of the local decision-making process.”