Clients from Firhouse Central Remedial Clinic recently protested outside Leinster House calling for basic human rights.

They say that since ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) last year they are still waiting for legislation to be enacted.

Fiona O’Reilly, who attends the Firhouse CRC and is also chairperson of the CRC Adult Service Council, explained why she and her fellow clients were forced to bring their protest to the Dail on May 8.

“Firstly, we are looking for an improvement in Home Care Packages,” she said.

“We want more hours. Some of us only get 2 to 3 hours per week and this is totally inadequate.

“There is no consistency with staffing or timing, and I myself had to fight for two years to obtain some of these basic rights.”

Fiona, who has Multiple Sclerosis, uses a power chair to mobilise and needs to be hoist lifted from bed to chair.

Living in Walkinstown with her elderly parents, she previously worked in retail and travelled extensively around the world before being diagnosed with MS.

“Secondly, increased availability of suitable respite facilities for those who need them,” Fiona continued.

“I have found through research I conducted that for many families, respite care is their lifeline.

“Respite care facilities really must be fully accessible, with accessible parking on-site and within an hour’s drive of home.

“Rooms should be equipped with ceiling hoist tracks to allow easy access to bathrooms.

“There should be suitable meals provided, accessible transport for those without it, trained staff and a doctor on call.

“We may have made some progress recently, but it’s only the start. There is still a long way to go before proper respite care is easy to find and affordable to use.

“We all understand that healthcare is expensive to provide, but the people who need this care are surely among the more vulnerable in our society, and it is the moral responsibility of the state to look after its most vulnerable citizens in their time of need.

“Remember that 13% of the population has a disability, so these issues will affect every family in the country.”