Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters

Aligning Disability Services with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Discussion

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail)
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I confirm that I am in the Leinster House complex. I thank Mr. O'Reilly and Ms Kenny for their very powerful testimonies here this morning and for their written submissions. It is compelling and, to a certain extent, heartbreaking to listen to both of them describe what they have gone through and the barriers they face. I have had previous engagement with Ms Kenny, particularly around education for her daughter and the manner in which the pandemic impacted on her.

My initial questions are for Mr. O'Reilly. He and Ms Kenny spoke about the importance of mothers in terms of fighting for their children and the optimum they need and having to settle then for less than that. Mr. O'Reilly has inherited his mother's tenacity and persistence. I thank him for advocating for her peers as well as for himself. It is important that the committee has an opportunity to listen to lived experiences. Mr. O'Reilly made the point that much of the time it is organisations who speak for him and his peers and that his voice is more important than that of the organisations. It is incredibly important to us. I want to assure him of that.

In response to a question from Deputy Pauline O'Reilly about his role in terms of participating in meaningful consultation Mr. O'Reilly said that while he enjoyed it and found it worthwhile it was also difficult to do because he gets only half the number of PA hours he needs and he uses many of those hours to participate in the consultation. In terms of his personal life, he is lacking PA hours. I ask Mr. O'Reilly to comment on what difference the extra 40 hours would make to him, how important it is that other people with disabilities get involved in the consultation and what recommendations we can make that would help that process.

Mr. O'Reilly referred in his submission to getting control back and how important that is. He might tell us a little bit about the inaccessibility that he has experienced in public health. Following Mr. O'Reilly's responses, I will direct some questions to Ms Kenny.