A note from the editor:For nine years, Disability News Service has survived largely through the support of a small number of disability organisations – most of them user-led – that have subscribed to its weekly supply of news stories. That support has been incredibly valuable but is no longer enough to keep DNS financially viable. For this reason, please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support its work and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please remember that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring, and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… A disabled MP has spoken of how being diagnosed as autistic has helped him to understand his behaviour as a younger man that led to his suspension from the Labour party.Jared O’Mara has told Disability News Service (DNS) that he was diagnosed in January this year by a psychiatrist, three months after his suspension from the party.He was heavily criticised by disabled campaigners last year when a series of offensive remarks he made about other minority groups and women as a younger man came to light.But O’Mara (pictured, centre) has now appealed for understanding and forgiveness for the comments he made as a younger man on an internet chat forum, pointing out that he and other autistic people “don’t understand the social nuances of language and humour in the same way as neurotypical people do”.The Sheffield Hallam MP told DNS this week: “I still don’t now, and I’m scared that I might be bullied again for my language choices and how I express myself.”His comments have this week secured support from two leading autistic campaigners, who suggested that he should be forgiven.O’Mara “unreservedly” apologised again for the comments and said he was “horrified” at the offence he had caused and still felt “so sad and ashamed”.But he said: “Parliament is a very scary and threatening place and I don’t think it has anticipated what the needs of members with mental health disabilities, autism and other learning disabilities will be because it hasn’t anticipated that it would get any members who have such disabilities (or who would go on the record about having them as I have).”O’Mara – who also has cerebral palsy – said he believed that people with invisible impairments were “made to feel ashamed and treated worse” than those with physical impairments.He added: “We can work and we can contribute and take part in public life, but only if great effort is put into providing us with the understanding and adjustments that we need and that, I may add, we are legally entitled to.”He also said that he found political correctness “scary” as an autistic person, and that he believed it had been “weaponized” by people across the political spectrum “to bully those who make language and humour choices and errors that fall outside of its arbitrary realms of acceptability, even when those people passionately believe in equality for all”.He said: “I am not a homophobe, I passionately believe in LGBTQ equality, I am not a sexist, I am an inter-sectional feminist and I am not a racist because I simply don’t judge people in terms of their ethnicity or nationality and to do so seems ridiculous for me.”He said he had nearly taken his own life “as a result of being falsely labelled these and from being bullied and harassed and I want to stop being publicly shamed in this way.“We should not judge people on their diction, register or choice of words nor their humour, we should judge them on what they believe, their policies and what’s in their hearts, particularly when they have ASD [autistic spectrum disorder] or a learning disability as we don’t understand the social nuances of language and humour in the same way as neurotypical people do.” O’Mara also stressed his strong opposition to disability hate crime, and said he had “been called spastic and cripple and been beaten up for being disabled on several occasions”.But he said there was no comparison between this kind of abuse and the discussions he had had on the internet in his 20s – he is now 36 – which had been private discussions in chat forums with long-time friends.He said he had “erroneously misunderstood the taboo words I used to be slang and not terms of abuse, loaded with so much darkness” and also had not been “aware of how my use of humour could be misunderstood”.He told DNS: “Those chats were meant for people in that era and exclusively for the people I was chatting with who understood that I held no prejudices against marginalised groups and who understood the context.”Labour launched an investigation last October into a series of comments O’Mara had made on these internet chat forums and comments he denied making to a woman in a nightclub.He was told last week that he would be re-admitted into the party, given a formal warning and told to attend equality training.But he quit the party soon afterwards, telling his constituents in a letter that he had “not been listened to or been given a fair investigation” by the party and had “been made unfairly to feel like a criminal”.He said he could not continue “under the pretence that I feel there is a place of acceptance and empathy for me as a working class, underprivileged disabled man within the Labour Party”.He said: “Nobody should be made to feel ashamed for mistakes they make when they are young.”Two leading autistic campaigners offered their support to O’Mara this week.Dinah Murray, who leads the autistic-led National Autistic Taskforce’s communications and advocacy subgroup – but was not speaking on behalf of the taskforce – said: “Many adolescents take a while to get the hang of what may or may not be acceptable to whom. “Society is nuanced and it is true that a lot of the boundary setting (these days especially) is far too fluid or volatile to make any lasting sense and thus does not suit autistic (or most other) dispositions. “It is arguably the situation of being marginalised and precarious because of his autism, rather than the autism itself, which was behind his ill-judged attempts to be part of the gang.”She also said that “a person’s autism can make them more vulnerable to manipulation and ill treatment” and that “an autistic person who adopts the bullies’ way of talking may be hiding from a particularly vile form of persecution”.She added: “Youthful folly is the norm, and everyone needs to be given another chance. To me he seems to have spoken very honestly about past mistakes and with sincere regret. “I feel very sad that he has experienced another round of bullying as a grown-up to the point that he’s left the Labour Party to which he had devoted so much time and effort.”Another leading autistic rights campaigner, Adrian Whyatt, said he believed the MP’s comments were “valid” if he had a “formal genuine diagnosis” (which O’Mara has) and that being autistic “may explain his use of inappropriate language”.He also said that O’Mara had “disowned his remarks from this distant past” and “appears to have repented of them”.He said: “That should surely be enough in what still purports to be a Christian country. Where is the forgiveness?”Another autistic campaigner said the impact of O’Mara’s autism on his use of language was “a complex area” and he added: “It can be difficult to gauge the impact, the way people will take things.“Sometimes we speak or type before really thinking about our message.“I have said some politically incorrect things in my time. I may inadvertently do so in the future.”But he also pointed out that he “would have to know the person in question to really be able to tell where they are coming from”.The disabled women’s collective Sisters of Frida, which was highly critical of O’Mara last October when his remarks emerged, and Disability Politics UK, which said last year that O’Mara was “entitled to due process and a fair hearing”, both declined to comment this week.But Stephen Brookes, who has recently retired as a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, and was outspoken in his criticism of O’Mara last October, said the MP “really doesn’t seem to accept what his offence meant, both in relation to those he insulted and why it matters to equality and society”.Brookes said: “O’Mara let many people down with his original offence and has done nothing to convince me there is any difference now.“He abused others in totally inappropriate language, and which any of us as disabled people would challenge if made against us by a non-disabled person, so to now use the ‘disabled card’ denies equality and as an excuse is even worse in my view.”But he also suggested that O’Mara should have done more to declare his invisible impairments and seek support from the Commons authorities when he became an MP.Brookes said: “That was why the House [of Commons] didn’t work for him and he left himself open to all kinds of criticism.”O’Mara, who believes he is parliament’s first autistic MP, has asked his constituents for patience, understanding and sympathy.He told them in the letter: “I ask for everybody to go on the internet and read about autism, and about my other disabilities; clinical depression, cerebral palsy and anxiety.“Then, with that reading and research, seek to exercise empathy over apathy and antipathy.”He told DNS: “Young people make mistakes but regularly learn from them, I certainly have.“My message to all disabled people is that I still dearly hope to be a force and a voice for them (and for equality as a whole) in my work as an MP, and after then too when I eventually leave.”
Month: July 2019
SAINTS will be hosting a special event for local businesses on Wednesday January 18 at Langtree Park.Officials will be on hand from 7pm to show firms an exclusive tour of the new stadium facilities, including the hospitality and function suites as well as the amazing pitch, seating and terrace areas which will provide outstanding views of the action. It will also be your chance to meet the Chairman, Coach and Captain.The focus of the evening will then switch to a showcase, within one of the Club’s new Hospitality Lounges introducing the new and wide-ranging sponsorship, partner and hospitality offerings available to local businesses.This is the opportunity for local businesses to be part of the exciting new Saints era.Refreshments and a light buffet will also be available during the event providing you with an opportunity to sample the fantastic food from our new catering partner.Attendance at the event is by invitation only so if you would like to attend the evening, please contact Dave Lowe on [email protected]
SALFORD have issued the following advice to Saints fans travelling to the match on Friday night:There will be a shuttle bus (52 seater) which will leave the Eccles Train Station at 6.45pm at a cost of £1 per person each way which will bring the fans directly to the stadium.The train from St Helens stops at Eccles Train Station. There are a few trains due in to Eccles between 6pm and 6.35pm.There is a later train which arrives in Eccles at 7.36pm and anyone on this train would be able to head down Church Street to the Metrolink to get on the bus at 7.40pm again to bring them straight to the stadium.Both will be on a first come first serve basis.Return journeys will leave the stadium at 10pm and 10.45pm to catch the last trains back to St Helens.The club also runs a park & ride scheme from Eventcity which is next to the Trafford Centre. Fans should follow signs for Eventcity. The coach leaves here at 6.15pm and 7pm. It also picks up outside the “Castle in the Air” Wetherspoons pub which is in the Chill Factor’e’ complex. Fans can park over there too.Any fans will receive 20 per cent discount off their food in this Wetherspoons pub on production of a match ticket. The coach leaves Castle in the Air at 6.25pm and 7.10pm. Return journeys to here and eventcity are 9.50pm and 10.45pm. Wetherspoons is also open until midnight.Salford have a marquee which is open from 6.30pm until kick off and from 9.30pm until 11pm. It is fully licensed.Onsite parking is by pre-purchased car park tickets only, these can be bought online or over the telephone up until 5pm tomorrow – please see www.salfordcitystadium.com for details.Offsite parking is available at Barton Airport (across the road from the stadium) at a cost of £5 per car.
SAINTS Academy bowed out of the Play-Offs 44-18 at the semi-final stage after a disappointing second half display, writes Graham Henthorne.For 25 minutes the Saints were following the game plan, getting at the weak left side defence of the visitors and were comfortably sitting on a 12 point lead.But the old Achilles heel of dropped ball in their own half inviting teams on to them surfaced yet again and having got away with it three times they were punished on the fourth.The Saints started much the brighter and took the lead on six minutes with a set play. The visitors gave away a penalty for obstruction in possession on their own 10 metre line. Phil Atherton drove the ball close and from the play the ball Lewis Charnock dummied wide right before turning it back left to the charging Matty Fozard who went straight over the top of the play the ball to score.A great defensive set on the Saints line kept the visitors out forcing the error. Jake Spedding, one of the few players to emerge with anything like credit from the game broke away on a 70 metre run just being grabbed from behind, but a repeat set was the reward. Five tackles after the restart and Charnock ducked blind in the right corner slipping the ball away to Matty Fleming to go in. A great touchline conversion put the Saints 12 ahead.At this stage the visitors were definitely rocking and finding it difficult to defend the Saints relentless right side attack. Defensively the Saints were up for it as well typified by a magnificent last ditch tackle from Danny Richardson, Adam Saunders and Fleming which saved a try.But it all went wrong in a twenty minute period either side of the break as the game plan went out of the window, the visitors got a breather and scored thirty points to take the game away from the Saints.In truth there was little to shout about from the Saints after the break as they completed only two sets under their own steam.One were Lewis Charnock was inches short of the line in stretching out on the last.The other when Lewis Galbraith scored in the corner after a Dave Hewitt chip over the defence was taken in by Ricky Bailey before feeding his winger.Fozard and Spedding were best for the Saints and were pushed hard by Liam Cooper who did long minutes off the bench but too many others were off the pace in the wrong game.Match Summary:Saints U19s:Tries: Lewis Galbraith, Matty Fleming, Matty Fozard.Goals: Dave Hewitt, Lewis Charnock 2.Wigan U19s:Tries: Liam Marshall 2, Lewis Tierney 2, Grant Beecham, Liam Forsyth 2, Ryan Hampshire,.Goals: Ryan Hampshire 6.Half Time: 12-18Full Time: 18-44Teams:Saints:1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Adam Saunders, 4. Matty Fleming, 3. Jake Spedding, 5. Lewis Galbraith; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Dave Hewitt; 8. Phil Atherton, 9. Lewis Charnock, 10. Matty Fozard, 11. Olly Davies, 12. Andre Savelio, 13. Morgan Knowles. Subs: 14. Jonah Cunningham, 15. Chris Worrall, 16. Liam Cooper, 17. Joe Ryan.Wigan:6. Ryan Hampshire; 5. Lewis Tierney, 4. Liam Forsyth, 3. Oliver Gildart, 2. Liam Marshall; 24. Jamie Doran, 7. Jake Shorrocks; 8. Ben Austin, 9. Callum Wright, 10. Robert Lever, 11. Grant Beecham, 12. Nick Gregson, 13. Kyle Shelford. Subs: 14. Luke Waterworth, 15. Brad Lawrence, 16. Kieran Sherratt, 17. Macauley Davies.
As part of the build up to the trip, we look at the inaugural tour back in 2004 with Neil Kilshaw and Head Coach Derek Traynor.“2004 provided us with a blueprint of what to do and what not to do on tours,” Neil said. “For example, entrusting Eric Frodsham with passports and boarding passes is not a good idea…“In all seriousness, we thought that we’d made a comprehensive plan for training, team activities and time off but its only when you get there you realise you have to be flexible. In the first few days we probably trained a little too intensely as we were all so eager to get the trip off to a great start.“Hindsight is a great thing and the reality was all the hard intense work is needed before you go (which we had in abundance) and whilst there it’s more about team cohesion and keeping players fresh and skills crisp.“The 2004 tour helped to develop four players that went on to play Super League for St Helens in Paul Clough, Scott Moore, Ste Bannister and Dean McGilvray, but importantly gave everyone a fantastic life experience and character building opportunity.“In the hours after the final game most of the staff where saying ‘never again’ because of the sheer work involved. However, it didn’t take long before those brain cells started churning round again! It was probably on the plane (in that brief hour that Mike was awake) that we started asking what if, what about, we could just… and before you know it the 2006 plans had started!”Derek Traynor added: “When it came round to the first game I was a nervous wreck but tried my best not to let the lads know. We were playing Wests at the famous Campbelltown Oval and after about ten minutes the nerves calmed down as we took an early lead.“I can still see Nick Reddyoff using his fantastic speed to skip around the outside of the defence and score by the posts. We were causing Wests a lot of problems on the edges with Reddyoff, Sean Weed and both wingers Dean McGilvray and James Walker making good yards. At half time we led 28-0 and despite a mini comeback, Scott Moore at scrum half and Paul Clough in the pack saw us home 42-12.“The middle game of three was against a team called Chifley College. It was a tough physical encounter with Ste Bannister and Liam Bland performing very well. At 20-0 up and never really in doubt of losing a huge brawl erupted, with some crowd involvement which saw the game abandoned.“This was the only bit of trouble we’ve had on a trip and the sight of Scott Moore trying to fight off two Tongans with Gordon Pennington having a piggy-back ride was just a bizarre memory that’ll last forever!“In the final game we took on the might of Penrith Panthers and we had a very focused dressing room which were determined to end the tour unbeaten. The game was a very close affair with Reddyoff opening the scoring again. Scott Moore was outstanding and his performance that day was the best individual performance we’ve seen on a tour.“We pushed out into a 10 point lead through a lovely delayed pass from Scott to put Chris Frodsham in before Scott was sin binned… and that ten minute spell seemed to take forever. When he returned to the field our lead had been wiped out. The Penrith team that day had Michael Jennings in the centre and it was obvious what a talent he was as he ghosted in for a try as if our defence wasn’t there!“With Scott returning our leadership also returned and we managed to get back in front with five minutes to go, Andy Stott converting a Ste Bannister try by the side of the posts.“A few errors then put our defence under pressure and Penrith went in by the corner flag on the final play of the game. The joy (and relief) on everyone’s faces as the kick sailed wide of the posts! And in true fashion the touring party sang loud and proud in the dressing room!” Tourists:1. Steven Bannister 2. Liam Bland 3. Martyn Bradshaw 4. Paul Clough 5. Chris Donnelly 6. Ashley Elsley 7. Chris Frodsham 8. Scott Holland 9. Dave Lowe 10. Nick Manchester 11. Louis Menguy 12. Dean McGilvray 13. Scott Moore 14. Tony Owen 15. Andrew Parnell 16. Jonathan Platt 17. Nick Reddyoff 18. Dave Roughley 19. Andrew Stott 20. James Walker 21. Sean WeedResults:St Helens 42 v 12 West TigersSt Helens 20 v 0 ChifleySt Helens 22 v 20 Penrith Panthers
Justin Holbrook and his coaching staff have reviewed the dramatic 21-18 victory against the Warriors and have named an unchanged squad to make the short journey.Saints’ games against Widnes, especially at the Select Security Stadium, are usually closely fought affairs, and it’s likely this one will be no different.The Vikings come into the game on the back of a 32-18 loss to Warrington but will want to put in a stronger showing at home.“We have to back up pretty quickly,” James Roby said. “It’s always a tough place to go. Denis Betts has them going well too so we will have to be on our game.”Saints’ last visit to Widnes saw them lose 16-14 to a late Patrick Ah Van try.Last Ten Meetings:St Helens 26, Widnes 10 (SLR18, 9/6/17) Widnes 16, St Helens 14 (SLR11, 21/4/17) Widnes 8, St Helens 21 (SLS8-R6, 18/9/16) St Helens 12, Widnes 10 (SLR21, 8/7/16) Widnes 12, St Helens 20 (SLR8, 28/3/16) St Helens 36, Widnes 20 (CCQF, 28/6/15) St Helens 34, Widnes 16 (SLR12, 24/4/15) Widnes 20, St Helens 30 (SLR5, 13/3/15) St Helens 44, Widnes 22 (SLR22, 25/7/14) Widnes 40, St Helens 26 (SLR10, 21/4/14)Super League Summary:Widnes won 3 St Helens won 19Highs and Lows:Widnes highest score: 40-26 (H, 2014) (also widest margin) St Helens highest score: 62-0 (H, 2012) (also widest margin)Milestones:James Roby is set to make his 450th career appearance in the match.The hooker has played 407 games for the club since 2004, to go with representative appearances for Great Britain (7 Tests, 2006-2007) and England (35 games, 2008-2013, 2015 & 2017).He is also one try away from a century of touchdowns for the club He has scored 99 tries in 407 games for the Saints since 2004.Kyle Amor will reach 250 career appearances if he plays.He has played 117 times for St Helens since 2014, and was previously with Wakefield (79 games, 2011-2013), Leeds (3 games, 2010) and Whitehaven (45 games, 2009-2010).He has also represented Ireland 5 times (2011 & 2017).Tommy Makinson needs two tries to reach a century of touchdowns for the club.He has scored 98 tries in 175 games for the Saints since 2011.