By Oisin McCourt
Eilish Balfe, Labour Party Local Area Representative for Ratoath, took on captaincy of the Meath-East team at the Labour Party Conference in Dublin’s Mansion House on Saturday November 13th. They proposed a motion to start a campaign with a robust attitude to achieve the goal of full equality for all people with a disability.
“For far too long, lip-service has been paid to think that people with disabilities have been awarded with the same rights as fully-able individuals,” said Balfe, who hopes to run for the Labour Party as a candidate at local elections, due to be held in May/June 2024.
“However, as anybody with a disability will know, there is a very different reality. Employment, education and public services opportunities have become much more difficult to engage with. This means that we will look for legislation, through the Opposition or Government to hold public bodies to ransom over how people with disabilities should be dealt with.”
Balfe also put emphasis in that these proposals would also involve the set-up of an accessibility examiner and the introduction of a new certification system to comply with standards for accessibility.
This process will start with the Higher Education sector.
“It would begrudge us to call on others to count their chickens before they hatch, so the Conference fully backed our ‘equality-proofing’ of all our policies in ensuring that all of our activities are accessible for all.”
Balfe also spoke in support of a Labour Women’s motion that will be the catalyst for change in the Early Years Education funding model.
“The current system is torn, so a new funding model is thoroughly needed. A two-tier strategy to families and individuals’ rights, based upon their disability, is another example of unfairness and it is time to put a stop to this. I am pleased to announce that the Labour Party will continue to be at the forefront of challenging and drawing the lines to this inequity,” she concluded.