Political Party Calls Government's Celebration Of EYPD A
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 21, 2004
DUBLIN, IRELAND--According to a story published Wednesday on Politics.ie, the Irish Politics Website, the political party Sinn Fein plans to boycott a government reception for the European Year of People with Disabilities (EYPD).
Aengus Ó Snodaigh, who is Sinn Fein's spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, said that the upcoming European Year of People with Disabilities Summit meeting in Dublin, is a 'self-congratulatory' public-relations exercise for Ireland's Taoiseach government.
Member nations of the European Union celebrated the EYPD throughout 2003. The campaign intended to advance equal rights for the 37 million people with disabilities in EU member nations. Millions of dollars were given to grassroots groups to fund a wide range of activities across the continent. While some advocacy groups felt the EYPD successfully increased awareness of disability issues and promoted civil rights, others have been skeptical of the initiative's long-term affects and the governments' motives in supporting the campaign.
Ó Snodaigh accused the Irish government of 'disgraceful hypocrisy' for their 'abject failure to advance in any way' the rights of people with disabilities in Ireland, in spite of the campaign and rhetoric.
"This government could have and should have used the occasion and the monies allocated for PR to take action to significantly enhance rights protections for Irish people with disabilities," Ó Snodaigh said. "That is, to introduce rights-based domestic legislation, to propose a new EU Equality Directive on Disability, and to ultimately use the international leadership opportunity of the Irish EU Presidency to inject a fresh impetus to the conclusion of a much-needed International Convention on the Rights of Disabled People."
"Instead, despite widespread public support, the potential momentum provided by the Special Olympics and the recommendations submitted almost a year ago by the Disability Legislation Consultation Group, this Government has not even published the right-based Disabilities Bill that this country has needed and that the Government has promised for years much less concretely improved daily conditions for people with disabilities in terms of access to needed services, increasing their independence and eliminating disability-based poverty," Ó Snodaigh continued.
"In this whole year the Government has accomplished nothing of consequence for citizens with disabilities and that is a disgrace."
"In this context I could not collude in a self-congratulatory exercise such as the Taoiseach's reception. Any 'celebration of achievements' at this time is misplaced. There is too much basic work yet to be done."
"The Government fumbled the ball on the EYPD and no PR exercise can hide this fact."
"Europe's disability year in review" (BBC News -- December 30, 2003)