Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Ceisteanna - Questions
There are many priorities one could talk about but I want to focus on one of them. I believe the Cabinet is, sadly, 11 years on, still discussing the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I hear that we are close to the moment when the Government will ratify it. While I hope that happens, I want to know what the Taoiseach intends to do to actually implement it and to ensure that people with disabilities receive the equality of treatment, support and services that they need to make the convention a reality.
I will cite one example of what I mean. We submitted a parliamentary question in the past week or two about waiting times for walk-in showers for elderly and disabled people in Dún Laoghaire. Quite to our shock, we discovered the waiting time is 18 months. Many of those people cannot be released from hospital and are blocking up beds because they cannot get a walk-in shower. The waiting list for ramps is ten months. People often cannot be released from hospital because of this and the council says it is because it has difficulty getting contractors to do the work. They are absolutely unacceptable waiting times for people who really need things such as ramps, grab rails and showers in particular because of the difficulty getting contractors; in other words, the outsourcing process is preventing it.
The obvious answer is to return to directly employing people in the maintenance departments of local authorities so they do not have to spend six or eight months trying to identify a contractor. We would then have people employed by the local authorities directly to go out and install these things for people with disabilities and the elderly. Would the Taoiseach consider that? The unacceptable situation in Dún Laoghaire is almost certainly replicated right around the country and it is people with disabilities who are suffering the consequences.