A Ballymoney businessman standing for the Assembly in North Antrim says more needs to be done to support disabled young people.
Adam McBride, 23, is the owner of digital marketing and web company Dynumo and web hosting platform BelfastWeb. He is also the creator of StartNI, an independent business blog and Belfast Bloggers, a quarterly meet-up group.
Following his announcement, the independent candidate says he has been inundated with calls from people across North Antrim to talk about issues facing their families on a daily basis including the severity by which young people with disabilities are losing out in the current system.
Mr McBride claimed: “Due to under funding, many disabled children have found themselves being encouraged to leave mainstream schooling by head teachers who feel they have no choice because of a lack in the necessary resources to cater to disabled pupils’ needs alongside the needs of other pupils.
“These children and young people sometimes end up in other specialised educational institutions but more often than not also have extended periods of no schooling or with their parents leaving work to home school. Not only is this in breach of these children’s fundamental human rights, as recognised by the UN Convention, but the fact that their education is being viewed as a ‘cost’ to the economy rather than an ‘investment’ in the future is indicative of our country’s failure of them.”
Mr Bride added that change needs to begin at a grass roots level.
He continued: “The non-functioning Executive, combined with lack of accessibility and inadequate education funding, is more disabling to disabled children than are their respective medical conditions. By not supporting disabled children, we are missing diverse voices that could help us move forward.”
Also running in the five-seat constituency for the March 2 poll are: Patricia O’Lynn (Alliance), Paul Frew, Phillip Logan and Mervyn Storey (all DUP), Mark Bailey (Green), Monica Digney (Ind), Connor Duncan (SDLP), Philip McGuigan (SF), Jim Allister and Timothy Gaston (both TUV) and Robin Swann (UUP).