Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inclusion Ireland wants people with intellectual disabilities to be enabled to vote

From The Irish Times:

People with intellectual disabilities must be enabled to exercise their right to vote, the Inclusion Ireland organisation has said.

Deirdre Carroll, chief executive officer of the charity, said there were reports after every election of people being turned away from polling stations by presiding officers who deemed them not to have the capacity to vote.

“Every person aged 18 has the right to vote, and that includes people with intellectual disabilities. We have been seeking guidelines for presiding officers but they haven’t been forthcoming.”

Inclusion Ireland has been running training workshops for people with intellectual disabilities on voting, and “they are always booked up within a few hours of being announced”. About 200 people have attended workshops in the lead-up to this election.

Ms Carroll was speaking at an election briefing at which the parties’ manifestos were “scored” on how they pledged to meet the demands of people with intellectual disabilities, and their families.

Major demands of the group are that enforceable standards be introduced for disability services, and that these be inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority; that “capacity” legislation be introduced to support people with their decision-making; and that there be no further cuts to services or welfare payments for people with intellectual disabilities. Ms Carroll said all parties were “vague” on the issues.

“Overall, Fianna Fáil barely mentions standards and inspections, while Fine Gael says it will ensure they are introduced, but gives no time frame.

Labour makes no reference to the issue and the Greens give no time frame. Fianna Fáil makes no mention of welfare rates, while Fine Gael says they’ll maintain payments to carers.

“On capacity legislation, Fianna Fáil don’t mention it, Fine Gael do, and Labour are wishy-washy on it. We seem to be getting a lot of the right phrases, without solid commitments. Fine Gael and Labour do best overall but still don’t score very highly.”

The parties seemed to have lost sight of the fact there was a “social economy as well as a market economy”, said Ms Carroll.