I wish to announce that I will not be standing in the forthcoming General Election for the 33rd Dáil. I have given this matter careful consideration and believe this is the correct decision for my family and me. I am far from retiring and will remain involved in political activism, supporting disability issues. I hope to spend time encouraging some of the 13% of Ireland’s population who have some form of disability to get involved in politics at a local or national level.
I have successfully contested four Dáil elections and one city council election and my political record shows that I have been radical, pragmatic, open and always willing to take responsibility to serve my constituents. I am proud to have negotiated Programme for Government agreements with four different Taoisigh during my twenty-one years in public office (1999 -2020). In 2016, with the support of my election team and my Independent Alliance colleagues I made the decision to become a member of Government and more significantly to sit at Cabinet as Minister for Disabilities. This position at the ‘top political table’ has enabled me to achieve the following:
- A Disability Budget of over €2.0billion in 2020, showing a 7% funding increase (€133.7m)
- Opening of 12 new respite houses
- Ratification of the UN Convention for the Rights of People with Disabilities
- Extension of Medical Card for 11,000 children in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance
- Restoration of the Carer’s Grant to 101,000 families
- Introduction of Personal Budget demonstration projects with 180 adults thus far
- De-congregation- 528 people moved to smaller community homes with supports
- Filling of 100 additional Assessment of Need therapy posts
- €60.0 million for Capital Projects at Beaumont Hospital (€10.5m CFI Unit // €50.0m new A&E)
- €14.0 million Housing Adaption Grants
- €16.0 million ‘Ability Programme’ funding for young adults in 27 new projects.
There is still so much more to do to support people with disabilities and their families. My 2016 insistence that a Minister for Disabilities would be appointed to Cabinet was crucial and raised the status of the portfolio. I challenge all political leaders to retain a Cabinet position for the Disabilities Ministry in any future government.
I would like to thank all the elected representatives and government members I’ve worked with over the years and I wish them well. I have also worked with many superb and hardworking public servants and I would like to extend my gratitude to them for their work and support.
I have been very fortunate to have the best election team, supporters and neighbours and I wish to express my sincere gratitude to each one of them.
I remember my late wife Anne at this time for her unwavering support often against her better judgement. I thank my two daughters Caoimhe and Cliodhna and my son-in law Niall and grandchildren for all their support and the love they bring into my life. I would also like to thank my brothers and sisters, their families and Anne’s family for their support.
Above all, it was a privilege to serve my constituents in Dublin Bay North and I would like to humbly send a heartfelt thank you to every person who voted for me at any time during my political career. Thank you. I did my best.