By Dan Walsh
There has been a positive welcome for the Wexford PPN Disability Report which was launched by Zoom Link on Monday night by the Minister for State at the Department of Justice with responsibility for Law Reform, James Browne TD, in an hour-long presentation on disability in Co. Wexford featuring many speakers including disability rights activists, the report author and PPN (Public Participation Networks) members.
Minister Browne welcomed the Wexford report and said that Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disability in 2018 and the implementation of the convention is a priority for the present government and one of the that pursues where further action is required, and a current public consultation process is under way. “It is hugely important that people from the Wexford PPN will be involved in that public consultation,” stated Minister Browne.
CEO Wexford County Council, Tom Enright, who congratulated the disability sub-committee who produced the report which is based on a lot of research that has been carried out. “I think it is a very good report, it identifies some of the gaps that are there currently in the services, and some improvements can be made, and to some of the services of the Council provides throughout the county.
“It is something that we take very seriously in the Council, providing the services we do to make sure that we do those in a manner that facilitates people with disabilities. We don’t always get it right. And we do our best, but sometimes there can be gaps there, and we welcome this report that can help us to improve the way that we do our business and the way we consult with people with disabilities,” concluded Mr Enright.
Pat Rath, Chair of the PPN Disability Sub-Committee was delighted to see the Report launched and he acknowledged the support of all who contributed and submitted to the Report and he claimed, “it was an achievement from my team of volunteers to pull all of this together in the midst of a lockdown and no administration support since August 2020.”
“The work is based on a consultation event organised by the sub-committee in May 2019 where many concerns were raised, and it became apparent that there were gaps in the representative structure. A huge lack of awareness. So many shortcomings needed addressing and the PPN has already commenced the roll out of disability training. People must learn to be aware and to understand,” said Mr Rath. who pointed out that County Wexford 15.1% or 23,000 of its citizens are recorded with a disability?
The Report carries several recommendations. There were contributions from John V. Carr, Facilitator PPN, Report author Ann Heelan and others.
Master of ceremonies was disability rights activist and Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Disability Advisory Committee Member, Dr Vivian Rath from Kilmuckridge.
Dr Rath summed up the important and significant acknowledgement in hearing the voice of disabled people to ensure that the voices of disabled people are heard at every level. “Disabled people in Wexford don’t want new rights, we just want the same rights as everybody else and equal opportunity to employment, housing and education, just like the rest of the Wexford population,” concluded Dr Rath.