By Finghin Kelly
On 1 April, with the support of Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil, the government passed the Social Welfare Bill. This legislation is no April fool’s joke; it contains serious attacks on the right of people with disabilities and the elderly to access a carer.
As well as making it harder to qualify for a carer, now, instead of a doctor judging whether a person’s disability warrants a carer, this decision will be taken by an official who has no medical training. This will result in people not being able to carry out normal everyday tasks and result in thousands losing their independence.
As well as suffering through pay cuts, job losses, and regressive taxes, people with disabilities have been hit extra hard by cuts to SNAs, mobility allowance, medical cards, the transportation grant and the respite care grant, while waiting lists for assessments and treatment have soared.
Greater risk of poverty for disabled
This war on the disabled, led by Labour Party ministers, means that 26% of people with disabilities in Ireland are at risk of poverty, much higher than the general population.
To rub salt on the wound, this Bill passed on the 8th anniversary of the UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities, a convention that the government has disgracefully still not ratified, making it one of the last countries in the world not to approve it. There is no reason why people with disabilities can’t live in dignity and have a fulfilling and independent life. In order to make these rights a reality we need to struggle to reverse austerity and for massive investment in public services and welfare.