This website is the result of a mix of sheer frustration and a career spent as a journalist. On June 19, 2012, my life changed forever. My youngest son, Fergus, was born. My wife and I knew he would have Down Syndrome but all the time and reading in the world will not prepare a person for what is to come. Since then it has been a constant battle to secure services we felt he should have been entitled to as a citizen of a Republic where all the children are supposedly cherished equally.
In many ways we have been lucky. Fergus is now six and he had no major heart problems. He is fit, healthy and has started mainstream school. However, his life is still uncertain in so many ways – what will his education comprise of? Will he ever have friends? Will he ever be able to work? Will he attain the skills required for some sort of independent living? So many questions and few answers.
Across Ireland, countless others have similar questions. We are fobbed off when it comes to services (and this isn’t confined only to children). According to the last census more than 643,000 people declared a disability. Although more common in older age groups, disability can affect all ages and both genders. It can also have a profound knock-on effect on carers, families, siblings and on the wider community.
Time and again, I have heard first-hand accounts from people about the difficulties faced while trying to secure services for loved ones. About services or facilities denied because of box-ticking exercises where an aspect of life simply doesn’t fit. About long waits for assessments. About lengthy delays in securing Carer’s Benefits. About an attitude that views people like me and my son as a burden on society.
And yet there is only piecemeal lip service being paid to this as the news of such injustices is drip-fed through diverse media. There also appears to be policy of divide and rule when it comes to the provision of services: pitting one group or individual against another for scarce resources doled out at the largesse of government rather than because they are considered a human right.
After a career reporting and editing on issues that now seem largely irrelevant but yet trying to contribute to society by holding authority to account, it is galling to suddenly be confronted by such intolerance. And so, I intend to put my skills to help in the ongoing struggle for disability rights.
Wellable.ie is a site dedicated to collating news and information on disability issues into a single place. It will feature a compelling mix of news, features and relevant topics on a broad range of physical and mental disabilities. It will not be a passive messenger: news and information are essential for anyone seeking to advocate change.
- Dougie Dalby