Speech on Order of Business: Labour requests time to debate cross-party motion on disability

7 October 2020

Ivana Bacik

“I ask the Leader for a debate on the disability motion that is listed as the sixth motion on the Order Paper for today, which has been proposed by us in the Labour Party with support from Sinn Féin and the Civil Engagement Group. I thank all colleagues for signing up to it.

“This is a cross-party initiative, which was also introduced in the Dáil last night, seeking to ensure a cross-party approach to the hugely important issue of disability rights and services. Colleagues on all sides will be aware of the enormous pressure that has been put on families, carers and service providers, as well as on persons with a disability themselves, as a result of Covid-19. The enormous pressure on services has stretched them to incredible lengths.

“I spoke this morning with St. Michael's House in Dublin 9. It is just one example of the many services that are suffering from the sort of chronic underfunding mentioned in the motion and the lack of specific provision to enable them to reopen day services in particular.

“We are calling on colleagues to support this cross-party motion and I call on the Leader to give us Government time to debate it over the coming days, in order that we can approach this in a collegiate and cross-party fashion. It is too important an issue for us not to do so.

“In particular, the motion calls on the Government to provide the funding required to fully reopen day and other essential disability services. We must also implement all Covid-19 related protocols, which are also placing a huge financial burden on services that are already stretched, and provide the additional funding, resources and capital investment required to guarantee sustainable capacity within disability and dementia services. We have heard disturbing reports of services closing in recent weeks and we need to ensure services are made sustainable in order that they can work through the crisis and beyond to provide the supports that are so essential for people with disabilities, their families and carers.”


Motion Text

That Seanad Éireann:


  • that families, carers and service providers have been stretched to incredible lengths, many to breaking point throughout the course of this pandemic;
  • that the personal toll and long-term impact of the withdrawal of care and supports for people with disabilities, their families and their carers is deeply worrying;
  • that due to Covid-19 those disability services that rely on voluntary fundraising to meet operating costs have been unable to do so;
  • that services are suffering from chronic underfunding which has resulted in unmet need exacerbated by Covid-19;
  • that reopened disability day services are operating at approximately 40% capacity;
  • that service providers submitted their funding requirements to the HSE in mid-June;
  • that the government’s allocation of €10 million in additional funding to day services and home support services for disability service users is insufficient and will not meet the urgent Covid-19 related costs for service providers, community and home support.


  • that Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires progressive implementation;
  • the innovative and committed response of disability and dementia service providers to the delivery of care and support for people with disabilities and their families throughout the pandemic;

calls on the Government to:

  • provide the funding required to fully re-open day and other essential disability services to implement all Covid related protocols;
  • provide the additional funding, resources and capital investment required to guarantee sustainable capacity within disability and dementia services.