SEANAD PRIORITIES

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PRIORITIES

If elected, I will take the fight for equality to the Seanad on behalf of Trinity graduates and the people of Ireland. The time has come to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities to create a truly equal, modern Republic in which we can all take pride.

My key priorities will include:

  • Equality
  • Education
  • Health
  • Employment
  • Justice
  • Women’s Rights

EQUALITY

Ireland’s so-called recovery has yet to reach many communities, and the country remains polarised between rich and poor. Radical policies are needed to end not just the deep economic inequalities that permeate our society, but also to break down barriers that prevent true equality for women, for people with disabilities, for people from ethnic minorities, for the vulnerable in our society.

As your Senator, I will be a passionate advocate for equality, autonomy and dignity for every citizen of Ireland. I will campaign for the full implementation of equality legislation and rights-based legislation for the 600,000 people in Ireland who live with disabilities.


EDUCATION

As a parent and a lecturer, I am passionate about education and its role in removing inequality and disadvantage. While access to education is deeply unequal across Irish society, children with disabilities face particularly difficult challenges.

The exclusion and marginalisation of children and young adults from every level of the Irish education system serves no purpose other than to perpetuate that exclusion and marginalisation. Integration of people with disabilities into mainstream education is key to ending that apartheid.

As the father of a child with disabilities, I know only too well the problems in Ireland’s creaking education system and the range of measures needed to address them. As your Senator, I will campaign for an education system that cherishes all the children of the nation equally.


HEALTH

From the moment we are born, the ability to communicate is one of the most vital aspects of our human lives. It’s how we express our love, our needs, our personalities. For some people, that ability comes less easily, but is no less vital to our wellbeing and happiness.

More than 13,000 children and adults in Ireland are awaiting assessment for speech and language therapy. As a father and carer, I see the huge difference basic therapies make in my son Eoghan’s life. I also see the damaging effects of the erosion of those same services thanks to cutbacks.

This is one issue among a myriad that affect children like Eoghan and the 600,000 people in Ireland who live with disabilities. As your Senator, I will campaign for the fair and transparent distribution of services throughout the State, starting with the full enactment of the Disability Act 2005 and the ratification of the UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities to enshrine these basic rights in law.


EMPLOYMENT

The number of people unemployed in Ireland has declined in recent years, which is to be welcomed. But we still have one of the highest rates for long-term unemployment in the EU. This is worrying, given the strong association between joblessness and social exclusion.

People with disabilities face higher rates of poverty and deprivation and are more likely to depend on social welfare. What’s more, people who are affected by disability during their school years are five times more likely to have never worked, a phenomena not fully accounted for by the level of difficulty associated with their disability or the type of disability.

The fact is that young people with disabilities fall off a cliff in terms of services at the age of 18. With limited access to training or further education, they are effectively warehoused – either at home or in institutions.

More than 180,000 family carers in Ireland, 62% of whom are women, also face particular challenges regarding employment. Whether caring for children, parents, spouses, relatives or friends, they save the country billions of euro every year, and yet this invisible army of workers are also more likely to live in poverty.

The policy challenges for addressing these employment issues cut across several areas, including education and training and the provision of social services, but also health, transport and housing.

As your Senator, I will campaign to address these inequalities and find workable solutions for a more inclusive labour market that benefits every citizen of Ireland.

The policy challenges for addressing these employment issues cut across several areas, including education and training and the provision of social services, but also health, transport and housing.

As your Senator, I will campaign to address these inequalities and find workable solutions for a more inclusive labour market that benefits every citizen of Ireland.


JUSTICE

As the son and grandson of members of An Garda Síochána, and as a retired army officer who worked alongside An Garda Síochána during the Troubles, I am dismayed at the manner in which policing in Ireland has been degraded and politicised

If elected to the Seanad, I will campaign for root-and-branch reform of our policing service, for its independence from politics and for its proper oversight. I will fight for proper funding, equipment and training for our gardaí. The recent tragic murders of Garda Adrian Donohoe and Garda Anthony Golden underline the urgent requirement for proper investment in An Garda Síochána.

At a minimum, gardaí should have sufficient numbers, vehicles and equipment to deal with the full range of threats and challenges they face daily. These range widely from organised crime to subversives and terrorism, alongside an increasingly frequent multi-agency emergency response requirement. The capabilities and capacity of Ireland’s frontline responders have been hollowed out and degraded by years of austerity. I will lobby for a police force that is fit to make all areas in our cities, towns and parishes safe for ordinary Irish citizens.


WOMEN’S RIGHTS

I am a committed feminist. As a whistleblower in the army, I helped bring an end to an unchallenged culture of bullying, harassment and sexual violence against women in the Irish Defence Forces. I am a member of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and I am committed to repealing the 8th Amendment to the Constitution and will campaign for and support any measures to do so.

I am also committed to improving the rights of Ireland’s unpaid family carers, the majority of whom are women. That women have shouldered the burden of unpaid care work in Ireland is hardly surprising in a country whose constitution singles out a woman’s “duties in the home” and her responsibility to carry them out for the “common good”.

While the gender balance in unpaid carers is slowly closing, women are still twice as likely as men to do this work, either full- or part-time. Aside from the obvious gender equality, this has huge implications for women of all ages, including, but by no means limited to, economic vulnerability, social exclusion and health issues.

With an ageing population, Ireland’s care needs are only going to increase. It is unacceptable to expect unpaid carers to continue to sacrifice their rights to prop up an inadequate health system that fails to value their contribution to society, as evidenced by years of austerity and failed policy.

If elected to the Seanad, I will campaign for a model of healthcare that values care work rather than exploits it, and that recognises the gendered nature of care work in Ireland so as to create policy that addresses gender inequality rather than perpetuates it.


I’m #AbleForEquality – are you?