It is with great sadness that DPAC announces the passing of one of our supporters, the disability campaigner Nick Danagher whose contribution to the Independent Living movement leaves an enduring legacy.
Nick attended a mainstream secondary school, an education establishment with a history of turning out disability activists including Jane Campbell before him, and he believed firmly in the importance of inclusive education. He did his degree in Brighton at the University of East Sussex and was able to indulge his love of cricket living opposite the cricket ground. Although sports journalism would have been a dream job (being an ardent Queens Park Rangers fan) he was strongly political and began work within the Independent Living movement, working as a Direct Payments Adviser in Greenwich before setting up Surrey Independent Living Council. Through his involvement with the National Centre for Independent Living he courted controversy through his role in taking NCIL to independence from under the umbrella of BCoDP (as it was at the time). As Chief Executive of NCIL, Nick was instrumental in securing the commitment of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services towards User Led Organisations. He experienced great frustration with non-disabled people’s organisations taking over the concept of Direct Payments, rebranding them and selling them to Local Authorities on the premise they could save money and his fears about the dangers of this approach are increasingly evident in this current climate of cutbacks and erosion of disabled people’s rights. As a Trustee of the Independent Living Fund he received criticisms from disabled commentators about its inadequacies and although he never pretended the ILF was perfect, he understood and defended the importance both of the Fund itself in relation to the position of disabled people in society and its ability to manage on relatively low overheads. Following the closure of the Fund its significance as he understood it is becoming ever more widely recognised.
Nick was social model through and through. He was also a lifelong socialist who firmly believed that disability equality is only possible through state intervention and was committed to the protection of the welfare state. In his honour we must not give up the fight but without his perceptive and political insights it will be all the harder.