A DUNMANWAY-based autism rights campaigner is to run in the forthcoming General Election.
Fiona Pettit O’Leary, a well-known voice for the autistic community, confirmed this week that she would run as an Independent candidate in Cork South West.
A carer and mother to five children, two of which are on the autistic spectrum, Fiona was herself diagnosed as being on the spectrum – at the age of 42.
Fiona says she has campaigned on behalf of the Autistic Community over the last two years during which time she also founded the non-profit organisation Autistic Rights Together.
‘I feel that the autistic community, those living with a disability and their carers in Ireland, need a real and effective representative in the Dail to fight for legislation to bring about real social justice and meaningful change,’ she told The Southern Star.
She says among the ‘pressing issues’ she would campaign for are legislation to protect autistic people from unregulated, unproven and dangerous so-called ‘treatments’ and ‘cures’.
If elected, Fiona says she would fight to criminalise the sale, promotion and use of any such products.
She will also fight for legislation against the use of restraints and seclusion rooms in all special needs schools. She believes that all members of the public sector, and service providers, such as gardai and frontline public servants, should have specialised training.
‘I have an intimate understanding of the vital issues and struggles which are faced on a daily basis by the most vulnerable and stigmatised members of our society,’ she added.