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Month: July 2019

A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… An autistic MP who has only been able to make two speeches in the main Commons chamber since being elected is calling for a change in equality laws to force the authorities to make parliament a more accessible place to work.Jared O’Mara has had a series of requests rejected by the authorities that he believes would have made his working life easier, as an autistic MP who also has a physical impairment and a mental health condition.Among those requests was a plea for the introduction of new ground rules to stop shouting and heckling while MPs are delivering their speeches in the Commons chamber, which he finds particularly difficult as an autistic person with anxiety.O’Mara (pictured, making his maiden speech in July), who currently sits as an independent MP, told Disability News Service (DNS): “As an autistic person with anxiety that has caused me some problems, it puts off concentration and exacerbates my anxiety and makes it a really horrible, scary atmosphere.”There have been occasions when he has had to leave the Commons chamber because of the atmosphere, and he has only been able to attend one prime minister’s questions since being elected more than a year ago.He is due to make only his second speech in the main Commons chamber today – on a Thursday, one of the quietest times of the parliamentary week – during a debate on whether to introduce proxy voting, in which he is set to back calls for a change in the law.He believes the only way to ensure a more supportive and accessible working environment for the disabled MPs of the future is to push for a change in the law so that the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty (PSED) applies to the authorities that run parliament, and the MPs and peers who work there.Although parts of the Equality Act 2010 – one of the last pieces of legislation brought in under the last Labour government – apply to parliament, the PSED does not.The PSED imposes a duty on public bodies – although not parliament – to have “due regard” to various equality considerations when carrying out their work, including having due regard to the need to eliminate conduct such as discrimination, harassment and victimisation.O’Mara told DNS that he had been left “shocked and distressed” by the discriminatory treatment he has received since becoming on MP, which had been “a huge culture shock”.He said: “All this has had a huge impact on my health.”He believes that compulsory equality training could help address the way MPs talk about each other in the media, the way some MPs allegedly treat their staff, and ensure they are more respectful of the people who work on the parliamentary estate.O’Mara was told in July that he would be re-admitted into the Labour party, given a formal warning and told to attend equality training, following an internal inquiry into comments he had made on internet chat forums when he was younger and comments he denied making to a woman in a nightclub.But although he quit the party soon afterwards, he has still arranged bespoke equality and diversity training for himself and his staff.O’Mara told DNS that the public criticism he faced following the investigation had had a significant impact on his health, including his mental health.This meant, for example, that he was unable to take part in key votes on Brexit, after being signed off sick from work by his GP for two months last November and December, and for a further two weeks after the Labour party announced the results of its inquiry.Despite requests to the Speaker’s Office and the Commons procedure committee of MPs, he was denied the right to vote remotely from his constituency or to ask a “proxy” to vote on his behalf.He said: “It also resulted in attacks on me from certain sections of the media for my voting record and complaints from constituents, which only served to make my health suffer even more and slowed down my recovery.”O’Mara also believes the Labour party should have warned him – before they accepted him as a parliamentary candidate – that if he won the seat he might not be able to secure the workplace reasonable adjustments he was used to, and legally entitled to, in his previous job.He has now received confirmation, in a written answer from Victoria Atkins, the minister for women, that the “functions of Parliament are currently exempt” from the PSED, as laid out in schedule 18 of the Equality Act, although ministers and government departments are subject to the duty.She said in her answer that making the functions of parliament and individual members subject to the PSED would make them subject to “compliance requirements” by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the control of the courts, which she said would raise “constitutional questions”.Atkins said: “The government has no plans to change this position.”But O’Mara is determined to push for a change in the law as he believes that would force parliament and MPs to create a more positive environment for disabled people and other groups protected by the Equality Act.He believes there are many small adjustments that could be made to the way parliament is run that would make it more accessible, including the provision of accessible information and the use of signage.O’Mara also wants to see the parliamentary authorities given a legal duty of care for the welfare of MPs, so, for example, they would have to act if MPs were being subjected to bullying.A spokeswoman for the Speaker’s Office said: “It is not the role of the Speaker to make proposals for legislative change, or to express a view on their desirability or otherwise, as that would compromise his impartiality.”But she added: “In the chamber the Speaker keeps order and calls MPs to speak during Commons debates.“The Speaker has full authority to make sure MPs follow the rules of the House during debates.“This can include: directing an MP to withdraw remarks if, for example, they use abusive language; suspending the sitting of the House due to serious disorder; suspending MPs who are deliberately disobedient – known as naming; asking MPs to be quiet so members can be heard.  “But as all MPs know, Mr Speaker’s door is open to any members with concerns.”A Commons spokesman said: “The Equality Act 2010 has no application to members of parliament in the course of parliamentary proceedings, and it would be for government or MPs to bring forward any proposals to change this.”He added: “It is vital that all democratically elected MPs are able to carry out their duties in and around parliament.“We understand that certain areas within the parliamentary estate, including the Palace of Westminster, are still extremely challenging for people with disabilities to access and there is more to be done to ensure that people with disabilities do not face unnecessary difficulties when working in or visiting parliament.“We are committed to making further essential adjustments to working practices and the physical building as quickly as possible.“Members with disabilities are provided with holistic support to ensure their particular needs are met, including ensuring they have an office in an appropriate location, and for new members of parliament access to a designated ‘buddy’ who in most cases is a house official, technological support, and support through the diversity and inclusion team.“The House of Commons and Parliamentary Digital Service have signed up and are committed to becoming more disability confident as part of the Disability Confident scheme.“The House of Commons also works with the Business Disability Forum and has appointed a workplace adjustment advisor to be a designated point of contact for members and their staff throughout their time in parliament.”The House of Commons also said that disability equality training was available to all staff, and that all Commons and Parliamentary Digital Service staff had received equality and diversity training, while parliament received an Autism Friendly award in July 2017 and the Commons was reaccredited by the charity Action on Hearing Loss this year.O’Mara revealed earlier this summer how being diagnosed as autistic in January had helped him to understand his behaviour as a younger man that led to his suspension from the Labour party.He now sits as an independent and has accepted that he will only be a one-term MP.But he is determined to push for changes in the way parliament operates to ensure it is a friendlier, safer and more comfortable place for future MPs to work.He said: “I am not planning on being an MP after this term ends. I don’t want to be the last MP with autism and I am certainly not the first MP and I will not be the last to have mental health problems.“Two MPs have insinuated that I am incompetent and lazy. These are common ableist tropes.“I really want it to be a safe space for disabled people in the future, and the relevant acts and laws not applying has huge implications for other marginalised groups as well.“If I can be the vanguard and so get the ball rolling so future MPs have got their rights and freedoms protected and future disabled MPs get adjustments, and it becomes a less hostile, less scary, less nasty, less bully-ridden environment in the future we are going to get so much talent from other marginalised groups.“It’s like getting blood out of a stone at times, but it is not going to stop me from trying.”last_img read more


A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Leading disabled actors and directors and key figures in the disability movement are featured in a new collection of free online content that shows how disabled people have been represented on film in Britain over the last century.The British Film Institute has released more than 170 documentaries, short films, charity appeals, home movies and news reports dating from 1911 to 2017.The Disabled Britain on Film collection includes work featuring film-makers and actors such as Liz Crow, Mat Fraser, Jamie Beddard, William Mager and Charlie Swinbourne.Among the films is Crow’s Resistance, a short drama from 2008, featuring Fraser and Beddard (pictured), about the Nazi’s Aktion T4 euthanasia programme.The collection also features Heredity in Man, a chilling 1937 film which features Julian Huxley, brother of Brave New World author Aldous Huxley, extolling the principles of eugenics, and arguing that people with learning difficulties – or “defectives” as they were then often termed – were happier living in huge institutions.He concludes that “it would have been better by far for them and the rest of the community if they had never been born”.The Huxley film was produced as Hitler was using the same ideas to unleash Aktion T4, which would lead to the murder of hundreds of thousands of disabled people at the hands of Nazi doctors.Also included in BFI’s free online collection is a 1983 documentary on Ian Dury, in which he talks about how becoming disabled affected his life and music and explains the thinking behind his disability rights punk anthem Spasticus Autisticus.The collection also features a number of films released by disability charities in an attempt to raise funds from the public, featuring actors such as Sean Connery and Charles Laughton, but also documentaries which feature the voices of disabled people speaking for themselves.These include Y Gwr O Gwr Aran (1978), a Welsh language portrait of a disabled husband, father and teacher; A Day in the Life of Kevin Donnellon (1972), which documents the life of an 11-year-old thalidomide survivor; and The Smallest Woman in the World (1972), a news report on Joyce Carpenter, from Bromsgrove, who at the time was thought to be the world’s shortest woman.There is also a smaller collection of films to rent, including the 14-minute Disabled, made in 1967, which features a three-minute interview with a young Paul Hunt, outlining his vision for a society where disabled people have independence, choice and control.The interview was carried out five years before Hunt – who would play a key role in the campaign against institutional discrimination – was to co-found the ground-breaking Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS).At the time, Hunt was living in the Leonard Cheshire home Le Court, where he and other residents rebelled against the restrictive regime.He speaks in the film of how he was only living in an institution because he had “no effective choice”, and compared the situation in the UK with that in Denmark, where a development of flats in Copenhagen allowed disabled people to live independently.He says in the film: “Some sort of realistic financial help is a priority, and also the provision of more nursing help to people in their own homes.”He adds: “In general, the attitude of the general public could do with a little changing.“One does meet a lot of misunderstanding, and prejudice, really, from people.”last_img read more


MICHAEL Shenton has admitted hed like nothing mor

first_imgMICHAEL Shenton has admitted he’d like nothing more than to put one over Wigan and give all Saints’ fans a boost.The former Castleford Tiger joined the club in the close season and has already played in three Derbies.Unfortunately, he hasn’t been on the winning side yet – but knows Saints are more than capable.“Quite simply, everyone has to turn up and play at 100 per cent,” he said. “It’s clear that Wigan are well coached and they all know what they are doing and know their roles. We have to turn up and believe in ourselves and show the confidence we have gained from the past few weeks.“We will continue to work hard in training this week too… but simply we need to believe.“We know that the Derby is all about – if we win it gives our fans a lot of bounce for the rest of the week and there’s nothing we would like more than put a number over Wigan. It’s in our hands and we have to sort it out. This is a final for us; it’s the most important game so far this year and it is our sole focus.“We have to concentrate for 80 minutes as we know what they can do. In the Good Friday game we were in a position to win but had a ten minute lapse and they caught us. We can’t let that happen again.”Shenny has played 24 times for the club since his signing and has scored 12 tries – including one at Castleford last Sunday.“I was nervous with that game coming up and going back to Cas, but it was fine. The fans create a great atmosphere but the reception was good.“We put in a good first half performance and showed some class at times… and some stuff that wasn’t so good.“It has been a building process this season and now we have a settled side which means the combinations are beginning to grow again. I’m learning to run off Leon [Pryce] now – he shows the ball a lot which is great for me and he has that ‘catch and throw’ so sometimes I get early ball.“Leon is a proven international – and that is no disrespect to Lee Gaskell who did a great job. He took the opportunity with both hands.“It was a massive step up for him in his first year in Super League, especially in such a dominating position on the field. It was a tough ask and he did well. He will learn even more now that Leon is back too.”Limited tickets remain for the Semi Final and are onsale from Saints Town Centre Store, by calling 01744 455 052 or from here.What If Forms for the final are also available below.last_img read more


SAINTS Junior Members got the opportunity to meet

first_imgSAINTS Junior Members got the opportunity to meet our new signings this morning – and enjoy some rugby league training.They were invited to a special camp at Langtree Park and were treated to a picture session with our new players!Junior Saints Membership gives young fans the chance to get closer and be more involved in supporting their Club throughout the 2014 season.It includes a whole host of goodies including exclusive Membership Welcome Pack, Personalised Membership Card, 2014 poster, scarf and much more!And you can even win the chance to be a matchday mascot for one of our home games this season.All this for just £14.99 or £9.99 for Junior Season Ticket Holders!Junior Saints receive:10 per cent off matchday tickets (limited to four per member per game)5 per cent discount on all full priced Saints merchandise (not including tickets of gift vouchers) Chance to be a matchday mascot (aged 4-12) Exclusive Junior Saints e-newsletter with the latest news, competitions, prize draws, offers, quizzes and interviews – make sure you have registered your email address to receive this! Exclusive discount on member only Christmas Parties at Langtree Park Invite to Member only Open Day at Langtree Park (date to be announced) Chance to win a place on a Boots/Player hosted Rugby Camps (aged 12-16)Second priority for Major Matches (Cup Semi Final/Final, Play-offs Grand Final) So how can you become a Junior Saint?Simply fill in the attached form and post it to the club or pop into the Superstore! It’s that easy!last_img read more


NHRMC continues with 18 million project

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Person airlifted in Pender County after ATV accident

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Leland man wanted for allegedly hitting bicyclist

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Child thrown from car in crash involving Pender deputy

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Florence victims face 100degree days in temporary trailers

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Internet Society to Hold the First Ever Africa Regional Internet and Development

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