Over the last number of years Marian has been very active on issues relating to the disability sector. The following is a short synopsis of some of the most recent issues she has worked on in the European Parliament in regard to disability rights – in short putting Disability on the European agenda.
"I worked with the Disability Federation of Ireland and others on ensuring good European legislation to make public websites accessible for people with disabilities. In this context I sponsored two experts in this area, nominated by the DFI, to come to Brussels to assess the proposals and to assist me in putting down amendments to improve the legislation. We had very good outcomes on this with virtually all of my proposals getting through.
"I have worked both at home and at EU level to make progress on the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). I have written to the Minister on numerous occasions asking him to move forward with the ratification. At European level I have been successful in helping to set up cross cutting groups within the European Parliament to ensure that the UNCRPD is fully taken into consideration in all European legislation. This may not sound very important but in fact was probably one of the most crucial things I could do as an MEP because this will mean that the UN Convention will not just be a stand alone issue but will impact on all areas of EU policy.
"I have actively worked on the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive. As you may know this directive should have been transposed into Irish legislation last October and it gives the right for Irish citizens to go to another country for medically necessary treatment if that treatment is not available in their own county within a reasonable period of time. This is above and beyond the Treatment Abroad Scheme currently in place. Our Minister has not yet implemented this legislation and I am continuing to pressurise him to do so. It’s not relevant for everybody but for those who need it, it is essential.
"I am also actively progressing the idea of an EU Disability Card. For the first time ever there is a small majority in the Council in favour of this card and a number of MEPs including myself are pushing the European Commission to come forward with proposals.
"As Vice-President of the Disability Intergroup in the European Parliament I spearheaded a campaign to have a European Commissioner fully responsible for disability issues. This would create a real focus on disability and help ensure progress on EU legislation e.g. the Anti-Discrimination Directive which has been passed by the Parliament and is stuck in the Council. I worked with the Disability Federation of Ireland and a number of high profile MEPs to try and get enough signatures in the European Parliament to call on the Commission to appoint a Commissioner with full responsibility for disability. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in getting the required number of signatures.
"However if re-elected this will be one of my priorities. Its worth noting that the Freedom Drive which came to Strasbourg last February asked for a Commissioner with responsibility for persons with disability and this was my response to their request.
"I am also a member of many different interest groups in the Parliament that deal with health and social issues. As well as being Vice-President of the Disability Intergroup, I am Chair and founder member of the Carers Interest Group, Chair and founder member of the Volunteering Interest Group, Co-Chair of the Mental Health Interest Group and Cervical Cancer Interest Group and a member of MEPs Against Cancer, the Kidney Health Group and the Epilepsy Group. As you can see, health and social issues figure strongly in my work as an MEP.
"At home I have been very vocal on the importance of Independent Living. I have emphasised the dignity of every individual, particularly persons with a disability and their right to support to allow them to live independently. In this context I lobbied strongly to maintain the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant".