McGuinness: Government must legislate for disabled people’s right to independent living

Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that the Government should introduce legislation to ensure that Personal Assistance Services (PAS) is delivered for those that require it. He made the comments after Waterford Council passed a Sinn Féin motion in support of the Independent Living Movement’s PAS campaign. 

McGuinness said:

“Waterford Council has given its unanimous backing to the campaign for adequate and accessible Personal Assistance Services for disabled people. The campaign is calling for the Government to fulfil its obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)  and to legislate to ensure PAS is delivered for all those that require it.

PAS provides the freedom and flexibility needed to live an independent life. It assists service-users with a range of day-to-day tasks that they cannot physically do themselves, but puts them in the driving seat. A benefit of PAS is that it reduces dependence on family and friends, and service-users report that its allows them to maintain their privacy and dignity. 

“PAS services are available in Ireland but on a very limited basis. Some 44% of service users receive an average of 42 minutes per day, with another 40% receiving less than 3 hours per day. The Independent Living Movement argue that a limited service such as this does not  allow service-users to live independently, to access education or employment, or to become involved in meaningful social engagement. They state that disabled people with reduced services of this nature can become trapped in their own homes without the chance to interact and may be prone to isolation and depression.

“The Government has already signed up to the UNCRPD, which commits Ireland to providing a range of supports to support  full inclusion and participation in the community, and the Dáil has passed a motion in support of the campaign. It is time for Government to stop dragging its heels on this and to legislate for an adequate and accessible service.”