The Alliance Party’s Kellie Armstrong has called on all parties to consider the impact the on-going political stalemate is having on citizens, particularly those with disabilities, across Northern Ireland.
Speaking on International Day of Disability – with the theme of “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” – Kellie today hosted a review of the Regional physical and sensory disability strategy, 2012-2015.
She said: “I myself have a hearing disability and from my own personal experience, I want all parties to understand that their lack of progress to re-establish devolved Government in Northern Ireland means that people like me, people with disabilities, are the first to have our voices dismissed.
“That’s why re-examining this strategy is so important. Benefits that are supposed to help improve our welfare actually discriminate against people with disabilities, while our ability to live independently is being eroded thanks to the lack of leadership currently being shown.
“Until 2015 this strategy made a real difference, from confirming services provided to individuals are not the responsibility of one Department, but the planning of services must involve all stakeholders, including disabled people, the strategy ensured respect and inclusion on all decisions affecting those with disabilities.
“But as it stands there is no-one to champion those currently living with disabilities. That’s why I’m inviting all the Leaders of the main political parties to publicly outline why they are not upholding the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and why they continue to ignore the Equality Commission report stating more needs to be done to enable people with disabilities to have our voices heard.
“I came to the Assembly to do a job and the two largest parties are preventing me and others with disabilities from being able to hold roles that represent disability in public life.
“We are sick and tired of the politicking. We are suffering at the hands of PIP assessments that do not respect or recognise various disabilities including those that have mental health or terminal illnesses. We are citizens yet the two main parties are continuing to put their own political ideologies above caring for the community they were elected to serve.”