WITH the Budget just two weeks away, almost 2,000 people marched to Leinster House to protest proposed cuts to disability payments.
The march was organised by the Disability Rights Coalition Ireland (DRCI), which is an umbrella group of people with disabilities, their families, friends and self-advocacy groups.
The march was prompted by fears of upcoming cuts, and also to call on the Government to act on pledges in the 2011 Programme for Government, which included maintaining social welfare rates and the introduction of regulated inspection of residential services.
In a speech, DRCI spokeswoman Suzy Byrne told the cheering crowd: "We should not be relying on rattling buckets to provide us with our human rights."
Emma Frahill had travelled by train from Cobh with her severely disabled son, nine-year old Dylan.
"We are affected by the cuts and I'm worried if they make cuts to respite care, I'll find it hard to cope," she said.
Also on the march was Tim O'Doherty from Ashbourne who was protesting on behalf of his 15-year-old son Gavin.
"It's just a constant battle, fighting to keep services in place for him," he said.
Earlier in the Dail, Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin referred to the disability march.
"There is a mismatch between the legislative commitments in the Programme for Government and the reality on the ground," he told the Taoiseach, who admitted: "Some of these matters are for consideration in respect of the Budget and, obviously, the sensitivity of the disability sector will be taken into account ."