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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog post by Mary Davis, Regional President & Managing Director of Special Olympics Europe Eurasia

Inside the Seanad Eireann

Inside the Seanad Eireann

A truly historic moment for Special Olympics athletes and the Movement occurred recently in the Upper House of Ireland’s National Parliament known as the Senate {or Seanad Eireann in the Irish language}.  Legislators recognised and applauded the athletes of Special Olympics Ireland and the organisation as a whole as they debated a Motion on Special Olympics brought forward by Senators from the coalition Government Party – The Labour Party.  The Senators wished to politically mark the 10th Anniversary of the 2003 World Summer Games that were staged in Ireland.  The lengthy Debate lasted more than two and half hours with contributions from 14 Senators and a Government Minister.  Athletes and family members were present in the public gallery and were warmly welcomed by each Senator as they rose to address the Senate.  The wording of the Motion stated the following:  That Seanad Eireann:

- Notes the commitment of the Government in the Programme for Government to ensure that the quality of life for people with disabilities is enhanced;

- Notes in particular that Ireland has the highest participation rate of any country in the world in terms of Special Olympics Ireland, with around one-third of persons with an intellectual disability participating each year;

- Notes that Special Olympics Ireland, a professionally run organisation with a strong volunteer network, has 400 community clubs across Ireland which offer training and competition in 15 Olympic type sports for those with an intellectual disability; and that the organisation operates a wide range of programmes which promote the development of the individual, by integrating them into local communities and giving them opportunities for personal development and achievement;

- Notes that in 2003, Ireland hosted the most successful World Summer Games in Special Olympics history; and that on a weekly basis, Special Olympics Ireland offers a year-round programme of sport and training facilities to over 11,000 individuals throughout Ireland;

- Commends the Government and Minister Kathleen Lynch for their support for Special Olympics Ireland, and for their work in seeking to ensure enhanced quality of life generally for persons with disabilities, and in particular for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.

A full transcript of speeches and contributions made by all Senators during the Debate can be found at this link and I encourage you to read them.

To be recognised and applauded by legislators in Ireland in such numbers and with such genuine conviction in Ireland’s National Parliament was a truly historic moment for the athletes of Special Olympics and the Movement.  I want to see this type of political debate happen right across Governments in the Europe Eurasia region.  The Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Government Awareness Programme, which we recently launched, aims to educate and inform Parliamentarians across the region of the vital work we are doing every single day for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  The goal is to have all legislators applaud the talents and skill of our athletes just as we saw it happen in Ireland’s National Parliament.

3 thoughts on “Historic Moment for Special Olympics in Ireland

  1. hey Ireland,
    Thanks for being such an awesome worldwide example of a country that welcomes and supports people/athletes of all abilities! Your program is an inspiration!

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