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Minister must act on Disability Strategy, says McMullan

Belfast City Council has backed an Alliance motion to call on the Minister for Communities for Northern Ireland to bring forward the Disability Strategy to improve enforcement of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 25 years on since it came into law.

Speaking after his motion passed at Belfast City Council to note the 25th anniversary of the DDA, Alliance Councillor Ross McMullan highlighted the progress made and the significant work left to do to achieve an accessible and inclusive society for disabled people.

He said: “25 years on it is important to recognise that with the passing of this act there wasn’t suddenly a quick fix for disabled people. With the 25th anniversary of the DDA and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities taking place this month, there is an opportunity to remind new and old generations of the campaign all those years ago, why it was brought about and the issues that still exist today.”

The Alliance motion which received cross party support was seconded by Cllr Brian Smyth of the Green Party.

Ross said: “There is a requirement on all of us as elected representatives to recognise that negative views towards disabled people is still a real issue faced by disabled people today. We need to fully support the work still needed to ensure anti-discrimination laws are backed up by meaningful action.

“From still having to check accessibility of places to visit, often having to give 24 hours’ notice before using transport, and being able to have accessible information when out and accessing financial support – there is still too many unknowns for disabled people in day to day life.

“We all have a duty to change that- especially as a Council. 25 years on and while the initial act brought a certain amount of rights and equality to disabled people, it hasn’t gone far enough in that in 2020 disabled people still have to raise awareness to secure lasting change.

“That is why the Disability Strategy from the Department for Communities is so important- better enforcement is crucial to realising an inclusive Northern Ireland. As a Council I’m grateful we that we can build on our commitment following my previous motion passed unanimously earlier this year to an inclusive response and recovery to COVID-19 in Belfast.”