Responses from Presidential Election Candidates on disability inclusion 23rd Oct'18
Two weeks ago I contacted all presidential election candidates asking how they could as our President contribute to disability inclusion, if elected. I firmly hold the view that despite the perceived limitations of the office, our President can be a powerful and important advocate for the 643,000 member disability community.
I have had positive responses to my correspondence from Sean Gallagher, Michael D. Higgins and Liadh Ní Riada - and await responses from Gavin Duffy, Joan Freeman and Peter Casey.
Higgins:Extract of letter from President Michael D. Higgins:
“If elected, I have proposed a special Presidential Initiative on ‘Participation and Transformation’ from the individual to the institutional. This initiative, which I launched with Joanne O’Riordan in Cork, will provide a frame and forum for a national conversation on inclusion and equality. It will invite people to share their experience, ideas and ambitions around full participation. It will also invite a number of public and private institutions to reflect on how they might be transformed in terms of becoming more equal, inclusive and effective. The conversation may for example move past disability access to talk around universal design. There will of course be a rights perspective within all these discussions.”
Extract of letter from Liadh ni Riada:
“My vision of what the Office of the President should be is a Republican vision. Where no citizen is left behind, and where no one is marginalised because of ability or disability. The Office of President is of course beyond politics. I have promised however, that as President I will use the Office to speak up for people who’s rights are not being vindicated. I will address the Houses of the Oireachtas on matters of social importance, and as President I will call out inequality, injustice and indifference”
Extract of letter from Seán Gallagher:
“If elected, I will launch Promoting Ability, a year-long initiative in the area of Disability. This will be launched on 3rd December 2018, to coincide with International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The initiative will focus on the almost 900,000 people across the island of Ireland with a disability, their carers and their families. We will nurture their uniqueness, promote opportunities for inclusivity, employment and ensure everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is something which I would very much welcome and value your input on”
Senator John Dolan concluded, “I am very pleased with the responses from candidates Higgins, Gallagher and Ní Riada. All Irish citizens expect and deserve the support of their President as they deal with the challenges of day to day living. Citizens with disabilities need the support of their President in their rightful quest to finally experience full and equal citizenship of this state”