Brendan O’Connor has hit out at the State’s approach to helping those with disabilities, saying the system is “disgusting”.
The Saturday Night Show host’s daughter Mary was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome at birth but has been refused special consideration and resources because she is deemed to have a “mild” version of the condition.
In a lengthy column in today’s Sunday Independent, O’Connor revealed that he and his wife had been forced to exaggerate her condition in an effort to get access to services and the four-year-old almost died from choking last summer.
“Mary has Down Syndrome, which, to most people’s eyes, is, to put it crudely, disabled enough. It’s certainly disabled enough for Mary and for us. It will mean that while we will hopefully have a wonderful life, she will not have what you might call a normal life. And she will always need, as we refer to it in our house, extra help,” he said.
“My wife views this as meaning that Mary will always be dependent on the kindness of strangers. Because Mary does not really have a right to the extra help she needs. It depends on whether there is any will to give it or not. And boy do they let you know.”
He added that his family had initially celebrated her ‘mild’ diagnosis but had come to learn it is a major obstacle in Ireland.
“If you met Mary, you would notice the fact that she has a disability. I would like to think it wouldn’t be the first thing you’d notice about her. But you would notice it. You certainly wouldn’t need to get her to jump through hoops and ask her to prove that there are things she can’t do.”
You can read the full column here.