Prime Minister Freundel Stuart greeting President of the Senate and the Barbados Council for the Disabled Senator Kerry-ann Ifill. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Members of the disabled community have found a new champion to their plight in Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who has promised to address some of the issues affecting their integration into society.

He gave this undertaking yesterday during a meeting with President of the Senate and the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Senator Kerry-ann Ifill, and other members of that body at Government Headquarters.

Senator Ifill raised a number of pertinent issues including the long-awaited ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was signed in 2007 in Barbados.

The Senator also explained the rationale for signing a petition earlier this year which reminded government about the importance of ratifying the Convention. "The reason for that petition was two-fold. Not only was it specifically to come to government, but it is also part of the Council’s awareness raising efforts.?? Unfortunately, many people do not understand what it is we are fighting for and we felt it [the petition] was an opportunity to get our people mobilised and unified," she emphasised.

Senator Ifill said the petition received 1,500 signatures and in some instances, had met the intended objective of sensitising the public about the plight of persons with disabilities. In turn, the Prime Minister said government was pleased with its efforts to address the needs of the disabled.?? He also updated Senator Ifill on the progress of the Convention and promised that "every effort will be done to expedite the process".

"Once we ratify the Convention, there will be follow-up actions that will have to be taken, certain amendments to the law will have to take place and we will have to mobilise the Chambers of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, who is responsible for drafting laws in Barbados.??

"They are ???snowed under’ with Legislation at the moment… but you have my assurance that as happened in the past when we needed to have things [drafted] urgently, we will ???farm out’ to draft persons in the private sector and the private bar to get the amendments done to the legislation and fast tracked, or if new legislation is to be drafted, we will have that done as quickly as possible…," Mr. Stuart added.

The Prime Minister also heard first-hand accounts about the difficulties encountered by persons with disabilities in areas such as lack of access to adequate transportation, inadequate access to buildings for wheelchair users; inadequate parking spots across the island; and the poor delivery of service at some government agencies.

Other members of the Council who attended the meeting included Vice President, Roger Vaughan, Operations Manager, Roseanna Tudor, Directors, Patricia Padmore-Blackman, Patrick Forde and Waveney Davis Bonnie Leonce served as Interpreter.


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