Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony TD has said that the Government’s regressive and short-sighted cuts to sports funding in Budget 2017 has jeopardised the improvements made in the lives of people with disabilities who have become active in sports and recreation over the past 15 years.

“The success of the Special Olympics movement in Ireland is clear to see. Since the Special Olympic World Games in 2003, people with both physical and intellectual disabilities, have become more visible in society, and are rightly taking part in a greater level of sporting activities across the country,” said Murphy O’Mahony.

“The cut in funding, announced last week, will not only potentially stem future participation but rollback the positive improvements made in the lives of people with disabilities as a result of participation in structured, organised sporting activities.”

Research undertaken by DCU’s School of Nursing and Human Sciences suggests that people with disabilities who take part in Special Olympic activities are healthier and happier than those who do not.

“Instead of cutting funding, the Government should have been investing, and continuing the progress made in the recent years.

“We need to support the expansion of access to sporting and social activities so that more people with disabilities can take part, not less”

“Physical Education teachers must be trained in adapted physical activity techniques, and qualified physical education teachers should be working in the primary education system.”

“Outside of the school system, sporting organisations such as the GAA, FAI, Athletics Ireland and the IRFU, in addition to minority sports, should be supported to develop activity plans so that everyone, regardless of ability, can take part,” added Murphy O’Mahony.

“The full and active inclusion of people with disabilities into Irish society requires us all change the way we look at disability, and adapt the way we do things.”

“The benefits are clear to be seen, and the Government should immediately look to reverse this 17% cut, and ensure that the progress of the past 15 years is not lost,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.