Press Release

Minister Finian McGrath opens new Galway Centre for Independent Living on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Minister of State with responsibility for Disabilities Finian McGrath TD officially opened the new Galway Centre for Independent Living at Briarhill Business Park in Galway.

The Galway Centre for Independent Living has been described as a ‘forerunner’ in providing professional services to facilitate a person’s choice to live independently. Minister McGrath said the centre will further support its work to assist people to make their own decisions about how they live.

Speaking at the official opening, Minister McGrath said, “Thanks to the early advocacy work by people like Ronnie Conlon and the late Martin Naughton, it is now accepted that the provision of a Personal Assistant Service is critical to this independence.

“Words and language help to shape our thinking about the roles we assign to people and our expectations of their capacity. And so the description of the service user as a Leader in the Personal Assistant Service demonstrates clearly that it is the person with the disability who provides the direction.

This ensures that the control and decision-making rests with the person with the disability.”

Minister McGrath continued, “Galway’s Centre for Independent Living’s Home Help Service is also central to independent living. The Home Help Service can assist with a wide range of the person’s needs including personal care, organising household matters, housekeeping, preparing meals and running errands.”

Noting that transport is crucial to the lives of people with disability, Minister McGrath added, “the Galway Centre for Independent Living provides an Accessible Transport Service, through their fully accessibly minibuses. These can be hired by individuals or groups for journeys within Galway City or County. With the emphasis on the needs of the person with disability, the hours of the service for the buses are flexible.”

Minister McGrath said that the ethos of the Galway Centre for Independent Living sits well with his commitment, as Minister for Disabilities, to do his best to empower all people with disabilities to live self-directed lives.

“A key commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government is the establishment of a Task Force on Personalised Budgets, which I launched in September.

The Task Force’s remit is to make recommendations on a personalised budgets model which will give people with disabilities more control in accessing health-funded personal social services.

This will give them greater independence and choice in accessing services which best meet their individual needs.”

Minister McGrath paid tribute to the late Martin Naughton, whom he described as ‘a formidable champion for the people he represented on the Task Force’.

“It was my privilege to have known and worked with him. As policy makers, I believe we can be guided in our decision-making by asking ourselves ‘What would Martin say?’ May he rest in peace.”