As the Election gets closer, Steve Daunt's series runs the rule over party promises to people with disabilities
There are things you learn in life. In no particular order, these are: your sense of style; your favourite foods; and the importance of knowing how to use a table of contents or an index. The latter will come in handy over the next month or so as political manifestos drop on my desk or into my inbox. The first virtual forest to be demolished for the public good came from the new guys(and gal) on the block: Renua Ireland.
Renua and I have very, very little in common but from a professional point of view I opened the contents page and went searching for any disability-related policy.
Shiver me timbers, they had two.
The idea of a separate ombudsman for disabled people? I can see where they’re coming from. The office of Children’s Ombudsman certainly does have a high profile and does some amazing work. On the other hand, the main office of the Ombudsman is handling complaints by disabled people in an efficient and humane manner, so why change it? Let’s park that idea for a while. For a party that wants value for money, this looks as if it might duplicate a system that is already working.
Renua’s other proposal really threw me. They are proposing a commission on the costs of disability.
For anybody who doesn’t know, having a disability costs money. That’s just the way it is. Disabled people are in constant threat of poverty and yes, they do spend more on the basics than the rest of society. Back in the '90s there was a clamour for the introduction of a ‘cost of disability payment’. It was shot down by the Department of Finance whose argument went something like this:
If they got it, other minority groups will put in claims.
We were in the early days of Tiger-land so that was a bit of a slap in the face. Between then and now it had dropped off the radar.
And then Renua pop up with their idea of a commission.
Yes, it may be only a commission. They may end up agreeing with the Department or they might deliver an amazing report and that will be promptly ignored. Politically, it is interesting that Renua - with a low tax, minimalist intervention approach - are agreeing to any investigation is interesting. An election promise? A real commitment? Or something that just looks good?
Only time will tell.
Between now and the big day, Undaunted will be going through the manifestos of all the other pretty things to see what they promise. Then the fun will really start as I start to dig up past Undaunted articles when they are in government.
That, as they say, is a promise.