Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has highlighted the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people living with disability, and has supported a resolution this week in the European Parliament for a new, responsive Disability Strategy post-2020. The resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority with 653 votes in favour.
The European Parliament called on the European Commission to present a comprehensive, well funded programme that would reflect the diversity of people living with disabilities.
Deirdre Clune said: “There are around 100 million people in the EU have some form of disability and we want to see that they have an inclusive life and no barriers to them, especially in access to employment. The Parliament wants an ambitious strategy to reflect the UN convention for people with disabilities. We also see this in the proposed programme for government; I'm pleased to see increased employment targets in the proposal”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has seen tremendous efforts to keep people safe, it has directly resulted in significant disruption to care and support services in many sectors.
Deirdre Clune said; “We will have to live alongside COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, and while high levels of disruption to services were necessary at the beginning, it is important that people get access to the services they need. As an inclusive society, we have to make sure that people can live their lives and reach their full potential. Ireland has worked hard to ensure that our disability services have grown and met that need. COVID-19 has the potential to undo some of that good work, and we must work together to reduce the risk of that happening. I welcome the European Parliament’s support for this initiative, and will continue to play my part in advocating on behalf of people living with disabilities, their families and their carers. Their voices need to be heard not just here in Ireland, but also in Europe.”
Deirdre Clune also said that the new Disability Strategy being considered by the European Commission needs to be informed by what happened with COVID-19, and ensure a better response to future crises.