Patrick MaloneWe would like to introduce one of our newest members of the team - Patrick Malone, who has taken on the new role of Public Affairs and Engagement Officer. Patrick joins us from a similar role in Action for Children and has a wealth of experience in policy and public affairs. Below we hear from Patrick on how he has settled in to his new role and the ongoing work...

Upon starting in November, it was obvious I was going to “be thrown in the deep end” as we had a lot of work to do on the draft Programme for Government, specifically a lot of engagement events around Indicator 42: Improving the quality of life for people with disabilities in Northern Ireland to undertake.

Another pressing element was that we had to produce a report for the United Nations on how the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was being adhered to in Northern Ireland.

That alongside an overhaul of our membership offering meant that I was going to be busy!

The engagement events we held for the draft Programme for Government took us all over Northern Ireland and were very well attended. It was great for me to meet so many amazing people throughout Northern Ireland who live with a disability. We received a lot of positive feedback which we incorporated into our response to the consultation on the draft Programme for Government (PfG)

Everyone put a lot of work into the Programme for Government consultation document and we were very happy with the final version. Unfortunately we didn’t anticipate the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, which meant a new set of elections. It also meant that all the work on the draft PfG came to a halt, which after all our hard work was disappointing to say the least. We hopefully will be able to pick it up again when, and if, the Executive and Assembly are restored.

In terms of the implementation report on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which will be submitted to the United Nations. The report outlines the ways in which the Northern Ireland Executive has failed to meet its legal obligations towards people with a disability here. Key issues in this regard that remain outstanding include provision of services, including transport and broadband amongst others, to the many rural areas on Northern Ireland. There is also much work for the Northern Ireland Executive to do in respect of education and health care for people with disabilities in order to become compliant with the Convention. 

The full version of our report can be found here

In March I was part of a delegation from Northern Ireland which presented evidence to the United Nations Committee in Geneva on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We were part of a wider UK delegation which attended the UN to provide the Committee with an update on how the UK as a whole, and, from our perspective, the Northern Ireland Executive, were failing to fully implement or adhere to the United Nations Convention.

Our contribution was very well received and it was a wonderful opportunity for us to articulate the rights, needs and aspirations of disabled people in Northern Ireland. I am now working on the response the List of Issues and we are planning to attend the UK examination in Geneva in August.  I’ll keep people up-to-date on how things are going.

Other parts of my role will include engaging with disabled people, both on an individual basis in order to build a supporter base, working with our Strategic Advisory Group to develop a strategic, policy driven approach to our influencing work. I’ll also be assisting on developing and delivering policies which will hopefully improve the lives of disabled people in Northern Ireland and their families. Other items on my “to do list” will include consultation responses and working alongside our politicians, civil servants and other key decision makers to ensure disabled people are at the forefront of decision making in Northern Ireland.

I will also be responsible for liaising with our member groups so if you have any questions or are interested in becoming a member group feel free to contact me…

Work aside I am a keen football fan, supporting for my sins Liverpool FC (don’t hold against me!). I also love travelling and was lucky enough to be in Cuba in January which I absolutely loved.

It's been an intense few months (to say the least!) but I've really enjoyed it, I think everyone who works here is great and look forward to working with both the staff of Disability Action and disabled people across NI for many years to come.

Patrick Malone
Public Affairs and Engagement Officer
[email protected]