*Ann Marie Flanagan and Padraic Hayes.
MEMBERS of the Clare Leader Forum are set to lodge “a strong submission” against proposals in the Green Paper on Disability Reform.
A meeting of the Clare Leaders Forum was held on Friday at the Temple Gate Hotel to discuss the proposals of the Green Paper’s Disability Reform, which “in its present form cannot be allowed to proceed,” its members argued.
Government have said the Green Paper is their response to a commitment to developing and consulting on a ‘strawman’ proposal on the restructuring of long-term disability payments under the Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2021-2025 Strategy.
An approximate eighty people were in attendance as the Clare Leader Forum raised their views on the proposal. Clare TDs, Cathal Crowe (FF), Violet-Anne Wynne (IND), Senator Martin Conway (FG), Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) and Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) were among those present.
The Green Paper includes proposals of reforming income supports which include, Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Blind Pension, Partial Capacity Benefit, and the Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Clare Leader Forum were enraged by a proposal for three tiers in creating a single payment system for individuals. The tiers are broken down as ‘high support to very low capacity to work’ at a rate of €265.50 per week, ‘medium support to low to moderate capacity to work’ capped at €242.65 weekly and ‘low support from moderate to high capacity to work’ which has a weekly rate payment of €220.
Seated in groups at each table, members of the Leader Forum aired their views in advance of the deadline for submission on December 15th. The first table stated that from the governments point of view the allowance should be raised there should analysis of individual’s needs, “It’s for people to live their needs and it’s about facilitating and putting administrator’s in place. If they have to make decisions, they have to inform us there decisions, and we should focus on other European countries, not just UK, to see how they go about these disability payments”.
“€250 per week minimum to survive and death payments need to be raised. The local representatives need to put more work in, they’re in the main positions, the public sector need to ensure that the proportion of disability in the country. The transport aspect is a huge issue, personal assistance, additional allowances, even technology; certain disabilities need technology components. We’re the third worse country in Europe for employment, it needs to be changed”, the second table stated.
Speakers from table six asserted, “Don’t assume we are not educated, we need more money, maybe special loan rates and all politicians must be accessible to solve this problem”.
Trish McNamara of the Clare Leader Forum who organised the consultation told The Clare Echo, “the next thing is to put a submission into the government based on what we’ve all discussed here, and the points that were brought forward. From hearing what people had to say today, this Green Paper in its present form cannot be allowed to proceed”.
She added, “There was a time where a disabled person may sit in a corner and kind of just nod away, but today we have a voice, that is quite evident today, and the amount of people that came and the input and the conversation’s that took place, I’m actually astounded by the majority of the people that came here and how they put their points across, there’s a lot of things that we have to sit up and pay attention to, but not only that, our Government needs to sit up and pay attention”.
“As a colleague of ours said, the time for talking is over, and the time for action is now. It’s very important”, McNamara concluded.
Both Cllr Colleran Molloy and Cllr McGettigan stated they are “going to put in a strong submission and motion forward of this, as Clare reps we will go through the Council”.