Congress Disability Seminar

18 Oct 2012

ICTUDisability group
Brian O'Donnell, David Begg, Suzy Byrne, Berni McCrea and Darrag O Connor in back row Deirdre O'Connor, Michelle Gaynor and Aaron Abbey from the Leader's Alliance (Pic Barbara Lindberg NUJ member)

About 40 trade union delegates along with representatives from disability groups gathered in Dublin Airport Clarion Hotel - a Fair Hotel (18/19 October 2012) to consider the impact of the economic crisis on people with disabilities and how they can build alliances to fight back.

Delegates heard from a wide range of speakers including Congress general Secretary, David Begg who said that a threshold of decency was needed to guide us through the economic crisis. Equality is about creating the conditions where everyone can lead a fulfilling life. People with disabilities face threats to this basic right with services – such as cuts to personal assistants – which empower people with disabilities to participate on an equal footing in society being cut and the quality of remaining services being hampered. IMPACT Deputy General Secretary, Kevin Callinan added: we’re  stronger when we act together – just like the successful IMPACT strike in 2002 when service users were to the fore in supporting the strikers’

Delegates from Northern Ireland expressed grave concern about the detrimental impact of welfare reform on people with disabilities, their carers and families.

Michelle Gaynor from the Leaders Alliance spoke about their protest outside Government buildings in September which led to a reversal in cuts to PA services. Full speech here

There was broad agreement that unions and people with disabilities and their organisations should work together to ensure respect for the rights of people with disabilities and to ensure that the services that union members deliver are quality services that serve the real needs of people with disabilities while also respecting people’s rights at work.

sileSile Larkin, Equality Tribunal (Pic Barbara Lindberg NUJ member)Sile Larkin from the Equality Tribunal relayed the experience of discrimination faced by people with disabilities at work as evidenced by recent case law at the Tribunal. Unions present pledged to work to ensure that the voice of union members with disabilities is heard within their unions and that the union would offer its full support where such discrimination exists.

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Delegates agreed to try to support 2 upcoming events:

Hate Crime event in Belfast on Tuesday 13 November;

Disability Rights Coalition March on 21st November - more here

Sile Larkin presentation on recent case law in the Equality Tribunal;

Brian O'Donnell, Federation of Voluntary Bodies - results of survey of members;
Eithne Fitzgerald from NDA input on 3% target for employment of people with disabilities in the public sector

Suzy and BronaghSuzy Byrne and Bronagh Hinds (Pic Barbara Lindberg, NUJ member) Deirdre and LiamDeirdre O Connor and Liam Doran (pic Barbara Lindberg, NUJ member)Michelle GaynorMichelle Gaynor, Leaders Alliance (Pic Barbara Lindberg, NUJ member)