I would like to contribute to the contribution of our president. Spain has a central power. In the Spanish Parliament, there is a Lower Chamber and the Senate. Legislation is created from there. Legislation passed there goes to autonomous communities. Autonomous communities have their own legislative powers but they develop their powers from national legislation. On another level, there is the local level, which every important. I know that as I have been the mayor of my home town.
I have a colleague here, Josep Rufà Gràcia, who has also been a mayor of his home town. Lots of us today come from the level of the municipal governments, which play a fundamental role. For instance, in the case of my village, my home city council had a number of agreements with the autonomous communities. Via those agreements, the economic resources were provided so that we could devote them to fighting gender violence and promoting the quality of life of people with disabilities. This is essential if we want to develop social policies and provide all those who need it with the economic and social resources that they need.
I was a mayor of a small village with 6,000 inhabitants but we had social housing spaces for people with disabilities and they lived in the local area. They were also very active in local activities. It is also very important that there was a really beautiful atmosphere in the village. People with disabilities were really catered for by the rest of the neighbours. They were helping them all the time. They were playing with them at playgrounds. They were helping them when they went to the sports centre. I think this is the tendency, as it should be. We should create effective legislation that does not overlap or interfere with old mentalities that have been there throughout the past such as has been said, identifying them with higher costs for society. No, this is wrong. We in society should be doing exactly the opposite: it is our duty and obligation to help them. When we talk about costs, we have to think, believe and make sure that it is an effective cost and that we spend our money effectively.
My dream is that disabled people are fully integrated in society, that they are really happy and that we overcome the negative image. They have been rejected by society. We are living in a modern society and modern societies should be inclusive. For that, we need the economic, legislative effort from all of us in order that we can overcome barriers and that we can count on the understanding of everyone in society. That is why taking part in this committee is a great satisfaction for me, because I know I am working, I am making an effort so that my child will feel part of society and he will not feel like he is excluded because he has a disability. I am sorry if I get emotional when I think about my son. This is what we are dealing with here.
This is a must for states. I believe that in Ireland and in Spain we must pass laws in a comprehensive way and listen to people in this community because they know at first hand the reality. All these laws must be accompanied by funding and can be translated to the next level, which is the autonomous regions and through partnerships with local communities. A part has to be given by the local government, the regional government, the central government and another by the users. All this money is then used to fund the cost, which is considerable. If we listen to the stakeholders and the families we will be able to be successful in Spain so that the users can welcome the work that has been done. There is a lot still to do but the law must be a driver for getting funding for what we are doing. I have tried to explain how we do it here in Spain. In each region there are different aspects because they have the ability to pass laws according to their own criteria, and also at local level, so there are some actions taken which are the result of these negotiations.
I am quite proud. I will tell the committee an anecdote. Fifteen years ago, I visited the United Kingdom. There were several representatives from municipalities, and we met a parents' association - parents of children with disabilities - but this association was merely about helping one another. When someone needed some help, he or she would ask the other members of the association for help, which means that the Government was not helping them. It was not providing professional or specialised care for disabled people. When I came back to my home town, I told people in the parents' association there about it. What they do is mediate between the users and the local government or the regional government in order to get more effective services for people with disabilities.
It all depends on the political drive. We think that with this Government, there is enough sensitivity about it. We have a specific Ministry for the disabled. That means we are getting the resources that we need, and we get attention as there is an open channel for communication. I say this to help the committee to understand how we do things. There are many things we should do better and some more things that we should do but it is good to let the committee know how we do things here in Spain and to encourage members to keep up the effort and the good work to raise awareness and to be heard by all the powers and administrations that are in Ireland to make them understand that we have an obligation towards these people. We have to work for that and it is worth it.