Speech by Tim O’Malley, T.D. on the occasion of the Official opening of Irish Wheelchair Association Resource and Outreach Centre Carlow

Good afternoon I wish to thank the Irish Wheelchair Association for their invitation open this resource and outreach centre here in Carlow.

IWA has been working with, and providing services to, people with limited mobility since 1960 to help promote quality of life for people with disabilities in Ireland.

I’m delighted to see the Irish Wheelchair Association continue their great work. The opening of this new resource and outreach centre is a wonderful achievement.

The Carlow centre was formed by volunteers about 35 years ago, the early days were taken up with integrating people with a disability into the community, monthly socials, day trips, holidays for the youth and older IWA members were organised.

There are many volunteers here who have played a huge role in supporting the invaluable work of the paid staff in keeping the IWA,s wheels turning.

In 1979 Jack Doyle came up with the idea of a fundraising cycle from Cork to Carlow, every year hundreds of volunteers cycle, some of them cycle every year.

Breda Keating, Brendan Hennessy and many more voluntary walkers have raised funds to undertake the IWA International Walk, and many local events have been organised to raise funds.

The first IWA Day Care Centre in Carlow opened in 1982 and was manned by 25 volunteers catering for approximately 40 people with a physical disability form all over Count Carlow.

Over the years through the dedicated work of all involved the Carlow Branch has evolved and is now offers a professional delivery of several services including day resource activities for 78 members.

The development of services for people with physical and sensory disabilities is a complex issue. To meet the needs of people with physical and sensory disabilities a wide range of interlocking and complementary services is often required.

This combination of services can only be achieved when everyone involved in the delivery of services actively works together in partnership.

The National Disability Strategy is an opportunity to identify priorities in the services for people with disabilities. It is a framework of positive action measures to support participation by people with disabilities in Irish society.

The Disability Act provides for a comprehensive framework for delivering services to people with disabilities. This includes a right to an independent assessment of health service needs and a related service statement, with access to independent complaints, appeals and tribunals.

During my time as Minister of State I’ve been fortunate enough to visit many facilities that have been developed and organised by the voluntary sector.

I never cease to be both amazed and impressed at the commitment of the many people I have met to ensuring that people with disabilities and their families are afforded every opportunity to enhance their daily lives.

I wish all involved in the Centre here every success in their continuing work.