TCDSU votes to oppose government’s “shameful” Green Paper on Disability Reform

Disabilities Officer Keely Jenkinson previously argued the reform “make it harder for someone with a disability to basically live”

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union Council (TCDSU) has voted to oppose the Government’s Green Paper on Disability Reform.

The union will support the Scrap the Green Paper Coalition and “oppose the Green Paper on Disability Reform in its entirety”.

It was proposed by TCDSU President László Molnárfi, and seconded by Disabilities Officer Keely Jenkinson and Welfare and Equality Officer Aoife Bennett.

The motion was previously spoken about during a TCDSU town hall, after the fifth organised council of the year failed to reach quorum.

The government’s Green Paper on Disability Reform, published late last year, proposes reform of the allocation of disability welfare allowances and creating a three-tiered system of payment on the basis of the “nature and impact” of a person’s disability.

A person with a disability would be medically assessed by someone employed by the Department of Social Protection to determine their “capacity to work”, and based on the result of this evaluation, a corresponding welfare payment would be allocated.

These proposals have come under significant criticism by prominent disability rights activists, who claim that it does not adequately address social barriers to employment and integration, and is “dehumanising and degrading”.

The council motion tonight dsaid that “there are over 2,000 or so students with disabilities at our College” and that many “have raised serious concerns” about the substance of the Green Paper.

Jenkinson previously said at the town hall that it would create strong restrictions on the lives of people with disabilities.

“It’s gonna basically make it harder for someone with a disability to basically live,” she said, adding that “this is a carbon copy of the Tory policy.”

Molnárfi called the Green Paper “really a shameful proposal”, and further noted that it sees “people with disabilities in an economic way”.

The passed motion claimed that the Green Paper breaches Article 33.3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (UNCRPD), which states: “Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.”

“The Green Paper fails to acknowledge the existence of systemic barriers hindering access to employment for disabled individuals and has been likened to similar neoliberal policy that was introduced by the Tories in the UK,” the motion said.

Molnárfi noted at council his and Jekinson’s meeting today with Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon regarding the Green Paper.

A published Green Paper is not yet government policy, but instead is a document designed “to encourage thinking and discussion, and to prompt suggestions”.

Public consultation on this paper ends on March 15, having been extended by Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphries due to controversy surrounding the paper.

Additional reporting by Ellen Kenny, Kate Henshaw, Charlotte Kent, Gabriela Gazaniga, Emily Sheehan, Madison Pitman, Conor Healy, David Wolfe and Aidan Cusack.