December 3rd marked the first major Irish involvement in the International Day of Persons with a Disability event and the associated Purple Light Up Day that features public buildings illuminated in purple.  Started originally in 1992 when it was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 47/3, the event is now gaining ground in Ireland and on Tuesday the Central Remedial Clinic Day Centre in Firhouse, Dublin formally launched the CRC Purple Ribbon campaign.  Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath spoke at the launch about the theme for the 2019 Event, ‘The Future is Accessible’, saying that a person’s disability or health should not dictate the path they take in life. The government are taking a strategic approach to disability planning through the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, he said, and that this ‘whole of government approach’ will make improving the lives of people with disabilities the responsibility of every government minister.  Behind the scenes, there is a radical programme of reconfiguration of services underway to make this a reality, removing the barriers that impact on accessing services education and work.

CRC Firhouse centre manager Breda Gavagan was delighted to be able to host the launch and explained how the CRC became involved in the Purple Ribbon event. “Last year the people who attend the centre here designed a ribbon badge to raise awareness of adults with a physical disability”, she said, “but this year they redesigned it to tie-in with the international event and changed the colour to purple. Remember, disability touches the lives of everyone at some stage, so through events like this we can have an impact on our environment and on our shared future”.  Last year’s ribbon was seen to be worn by several TDs in Dáil Eireann, and Breda hopes that this year the campaign will gain even more publicity, spreading awareness of the issues facing persons who have a disability.

The award-winning Firhouse CRC centre recently opened a community based, fully wheelchair-accessible garden designed and built in close co-operation with South Dublin County Council.  A history of this sort of community involvement in the area meant that Councillors Alan Edge and Charlie O’Connor also attended the launch event along with representatives of local schools and businesses who turned out to support the centre.  A group of volunteer collectors from the local community helped sell the ribbons, including 32 Transition Year students from nearby Firhouse Community College working on a school TY Initiative who took it upon themselves to sell the ribbons at The Square Shopping Centre, Tallaght.  They all reported getting a warm and generous reception and everyone is looking forward to growing the event for 2020.

Caption: Daiva, Declan  Gaffney, Minister Finian Mc Grath, Breda Gavagan CRC Firhouse Manager and Andrezej in front