Thursday, 4 February 2016

It's time to Disable Inequality-Brady

Sinn Fein candidate for Wicklow East-Carlow Councillor John Brady has launched a stinging attack on Fine Gael and Labour claiming that promises made in the run up to the 2011 general election were nothing more than verbal gadgets invented to trap a demoralised and frustrated electorate:
“Some broken promises cut deeper and sting harder. Persons living with disabilities have been among the hardest groups hit. Over the last five years the government parties have overseen cuts to rent allowance and fuel allowance, disability allowance rates cut for over 18’s, carer’s allowance cut, telephone allowance axed, illness benefit qualifying period raised to 18, invalidity pension cut, medical cards taken off the sick the elderly and the terminally ill, mobility allowance stopped, cuts to respite hours and day care hours, €100 million euros have been cut from the drugs payment reimbursement scheme while prescription charges were introduced and increased. Incredibly, 2 million home help hours have been axed”.

Councillor Brady said the outgoing government are guilty of deceit:
“Fine Gael and Labour will argue that such cuts were necessary in order fight Fianna Fail’s economic attack on the country. But we in Sinn Fein would call on people to simply look at the numbers. In the last of the government’s long list of regressive budgets, the top twenty percent wealthiest citizens were awarded 180 million euro back in tax cuts. A bonanza that even the recipients themselves would argue they simply didn’t need. The truth is that both parties were cynically acting in an effort to protect what they see as their electoral constituency. They were using cash in an effort to try and buy-off voters. This is shameful, when we look at the cuts outlined above, it is impossible to underestimate the difference 180 million euro could have made had it been invested in essential services for those with disabilities.”

Speaking in regard to responsibilities and priorities which should occupy the minds of all political parties and independents, Councillor Brady had this to say:
“We shouldn’t even be having this discussion. One of the greatest responsibilities for any society is to ensure the safety and welfare of all citizens, but particularly those who are in some way disadvantaged, its basic humanitarianism. It should not be a political issue, people with disabilities should not have to wait until economic winds blow in a certain direction, or one particular party gets into power, or one particular individual becomes a dominant advocate. Collective responsibility when it comes to all those who are most vulnerable in our society should straddle the consciousness of every political group regardless of ideology.”

“Quite simply the issue is votes. The numbers of people affected are proportionately small. This means that right-wing parties such as Fine Gael, labour and Fianna Fail are not motivated to provide the services needed. On the other hand, those of us who push for change are accused by TD’s such as Fine Gael’s Simon Harris of ‘populism’. Essentially what Harris and others are really saying is this; giving hundreds of millions in unnecessary tax breaks to high earners is sensible economics, but providing funding for those with disabilities is a waste of resources. In other words - conservative populism is good, progressive accountability is bad.”

Councillor Brady went on to say that Sinn Fein will not make promises it cannot keep. The party has fully costed its options should it be in government and persons with disabilities are at the top of its list of priorities:
“While Fine Gael and Labour advance their plans to cut taxes by 4.5billion to benefit their higher earners, Sinn Fein have a better idea. In government Sinn Fein will increase provision for people with mental health difficulties alongside intellectual and physical disability. The party will increase Personal Assistant hours by an additional 500,000 hours each year. Increase the number of Speech and Language Therapists by 250, Occupational Therapists by 100, Physiotherapists by 100 and psychologists by 150. Increase Respite Care Services by 20%. We will Increase the budget allocation to disability service providers’ year on year and deliver a secure medical card for persons with disabilities. This is not an exhaustive list, but more importantly it is not a populist list. It is nothing more than a responsible commitment to decency, fairness and equality. In 2011 Labour said; ‘every little hurts’, they weren’t joking.”

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