People with Disabilities are Shattered

Department of Justice withdraws 2012 funding for People with Disabilities Ireland (PwDI)

The Board of PwDI at its meeting yesterday were  extremely shocked to learn that the Minister for Justice and Equality has withdrawn funding for 2012 to support the work of People with Disabilities in Ireland .

The decision to withdraw this funding will have a detrimental effect on the lives of so many people with disabilities nationally. This decision shows a complete disregard for the voluntary work of hundreds of members over the past decade and all that they have achieved and accomplished. Not alone will it end the running of PwDI as an organisation but it will mean the disempowerment of so many volunteer people with disabilities. This decision has astonished the Board and the members of PwDI countrywide who believe that in one short letter the Minister has silenced the acknowledged expert voice of people with disabilities and set back the disability agenda 15 years. PwDI is the only umbrella organisation for so many people where they felt that they had a say and now that voice has been silenced.

Background: People with Disabilities in Ireland (<acronym>PWDI</acronym>) is the only national cross disability organisation funded by the Government and aims to help all people with disabilities to take part in and influence the decision making process that impacts on their lives and opportunities. <acronym>PWDI</acronym> is for all people with disabilities, whether those disabilities are physical, sensory, intellectual or emotional/mental health and also welcomed the involvement of parents, carers, siblings, partners and disability groups. PwDI has a national network of local committees who raise and address local issues and organise events such as conferences and activities for members. It offers a bottom up model of giving members a louder voice to raise issues on a national stage. PwDI has over 8,000 members and affiliated organisations, 26 local network committees across Ireland with many giving their time on a voluntary basis to build the organisation. PwDI to date was funded by the Department of Justice and Equality and was established as a result of the Commission Report “A Strategy for Equality” that was instigated by a Labour party in Government.

Chairperson of PwDI Mr James McClean described the decision as a retrograde step and that its impact will have far reaching consequences for people with disabilities and the many small disability groups that we worked with locally. He further added that in collaboration with the Department it had undertaken a process of restructuring the organisation and that it was now better placed than ever to represent people with disabilities. Members of the Board of PwDI stated that  “This decision by the Minister has shattered and destroyed an organisation that has over the last decade built up a huge support base across the country and that was accepted by all statutory and non statutory organisations and agencies as being the acknowledged expert voice of people with disabilities. The Board further stated that as disabled people we are only too well aware of the economic situation in Ireland and that now more than ever there is a need for an organisation such as PwDI to ensure that those that are most vulnerable and who are on the margins of society are represented.

For further information or comment contact

James McClean Chairperson of People with Disabilities in Ireland  0863445075

Malachy Foots PRO of People with Disabilities in Ireland   0876833965

Morgan Mc Knight of People with Disabilities in Ireland   0879306814