Ms. Maisie Dooley of 65 Renmore Park, Galway has been appointed one of the 20 members of the recently formed National Disability Authority. The N.D.A. replaces many of the bodies formerly dealing with the needs of the disabled and the provision of services to them.
Ms. Mary Wallace, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, with responsibility for Disability said that the Authority was “the broad based balanced representative group we set out to achieve” and that “People with disability will no longer have segregated services”.
The Chief Executive of the Rehab Group, Mr. Frank Flannery said “the New Authority has the teeth to lead people with disabilities into a new era, where they will at least be treated as full and equal citizens of the State.”
Thirteen of the Authority’s 20 members have a disability or have a family member with a disability. Ms.Dooley who has been appointed to represent Autism, has a 34 year old son with Autism. She has been a member of the Irish Society for Autism (founded in 1963) since 1970, and is in fact the longest-standing member in the country. She and her husband Christy with a few close friends and supporters founded the Western Branch of I.S.A. in 1979. Only last year, 1997, did their continuous efforts come to fruition with the opening of the Cloonmore Farm, Claregalway, to provide the first Autism-specific service in the Western Health Board Region. With funding for 6 adults only, three are already in residence, with the placement of three more under way.
Ms. Dooley says that while here brief is primarily Autism she will of course, with the other members of the Authority, be concerned with the whole range of disabilities. Autism however, is not just an individual disab ility, but affects the whole family and therefore she intends to make herself accessible to every afflicted family in the country.
The N.D.A. will report directly to the Oireachtas every year.