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21 Jan 2022

Donegal activist says disability campaigners will keep momentum going

Frank Larkin was an organiser of today's protest at Leinster House

Campaigner Frank Larkin said activists plan to keep the momentum going as they urge government to follow through on long-awaited measures related to equal rights for disabled people.

“The plan is to keep the momentum going and hopefully to do something similar after the Dáil returns in September,” Frank said.

Frank was an organiser of “Broken Promises: Disabled people fight back”, a protest that drew up to 30 people to Leinster House today.

“It was people who really wanted to be there and who were really frustrated,” Frank said. He said it can be very difficult for people with disabilities to attend a demonstration in Dublin.

For example, he said if a disabled person were to use their personal assistant hours to attend the protest, that would probably leave them with inadequate PA hours for the week. Securing accessible transport is also a problem, he said.

Frank said the protest received strong support from passing traffic and from people walking past, who stopped to learn more about the campaigners’ concerns. The action also drew broad media attention, with Frank giving interviews to national and regional media.

Frank said it was disappointing that only one politician from government parties, Richard Bruton, minister for education and skills, spoke with the group.

In announcing the protest, organisers cited a number of what they described as promises broken by successive governments, including the government’s failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which Ireland signed 10 years ago; the lack of new transport/mobility benefits after those benefits were cut in 2013; failure to implement in full Disability Act 2005; failure to deliver the needs-based personal care budgets that the Fine Gael 2011 manifesto promised; and lack of action on other measures or legislation that protesters said are not yet completed or fully implemented.

“We are not ‘useless’ citizens,” organisers said. “We have gifts and skills, and can offer Ireland a great deal. With the right supports, we can fly.”

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