Alliance Belfast City Councillor Ross McMullan has secured a new Council disability working group with the aim of driving Belfast forward to become an accessible city, after unanimous approval from Council on Monday night.
Councillor McMullan has said the move will put words finally into action to deliver real tangible results on the Council’s commitment to become an inclusive city for everyone.
He said: “Belfast is a fantastic city, but the inaccessibility, exclusion and barriers disabled people can be experience on a daily basis here is intolerable. Disability rights are non-negotiable, and its time we as elected members turned words into action.
“Five years ago commitments were included by the Council in its Belfast Agenda - its community plan until 2035 - where the Council said it would bring about change. While many good actions have taken place in that time, they’ve happened in isolation - not only between stakeholders but within Council itself.
“Since I first recognised the need for this group two years ago during the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve spoken to a range of people with disabilities and groups who have felt let down. Now in a context of cost of living crisis that will also disproportionately affect disabled people, action to put a plan to deliver on this commitment is long overdue.
“This group will allow Councillors from each party to engage with putting an overarching disability strategy together. Fundamental to this group is the principle of ‘Nothing Without Us’. The participation of people with disabilities in the group in ensuring any recommendations put forward are well informed, actionable and deliver change.
“We cannot continue with the current status quo at council of no vision, no plan, no roadmap, no indicators. And while we don’t have the remit to change everything, we need to deliver change to our services and use our influence to challenge others in public, private and voluntary sectors to do the same. I welcome the unanimous support allowing this group to get up and running, and to the work that lies ahead.”
The first meeting of Belfast City Council’s Disability Working Group is due to take place later this month.