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Special Olympics 'Honeymoon' Was Short-Lived, Poll Suggests
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 28, 2004

DUBLIN, IRELAND--Disability rights groups had hoped that hosting the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games would lead to long-lasting change in attitudes toward people with disabilities in Irish society and politics.

"The Special Olympics has really brought home to Irish society the positive aspects of disability and has shown how people with disability can contribute. The job is to continue that momentum and bring that attitude into Government policy," said John Saunders, chairman of the Disability Federation of Ireland, after the Games were ended last July.

An opinion poll released this week suggested that this has not happened.

Interviews conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday by Lansdowne Market Research, for the Irish Examiner/Prime Time, found that 47 percent of its 500 respondents believe the Games had only a brief impact -- which has since faded -- while 9 percent believe it had no impact at all on such attitudes.

Less than a year after Ireland hosted 10,000 athletes from around the world, just 14 percent of those polled felt the event had made disability a key political issue, while 29 percent believed it had made disability a more important issue.

Advocates have been critical of the government's visible support for the Special Olympics event, at the same time it delayed support for people with disabilities and their families, particularly in the form of a Disability Bill..

The poll suggested that the general public does not yet support disability-related initiatives. More than one-half of those interviewed, for example, indicated they would not support increasing taxes to pay for state-funded child care.

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