Consultative group calls for minister for disabilities

 

A consultative group, representing several disability organisations, has called for the establishment of minister for disabilities with cross-departmental responsibilities.

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The human rights model sees people with disabilities as people with the same enforceable rights as everyone else.
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Ms Angela Kerins, chairperson, National Disability Authority.

The group says that the 2001 Disability Bill faltered due to underlying inadequacies in the area of enforceable rights, advocacy and implementation, particularly in relation to the five to 13 year timescales for the delivery of some of the Bill's provisions.

It says that it is vital that any new legislation does not repeat these difficulties.

The DLCG was brought together by Ms Angela Kerins, chairperson, National Disability Authority, at the request of Government to ensure effective consultation with the disability sector.

It comprises representatives from eight key organisations: Disability Federation of Ireland; Forum of People with Disabilities; Mental Health Ireland; National Association of Mental Handicap Ireland; National Parents and Siblings Alliance; National Federation of Voluntary Bodies; Not for Profit Business Association; People with Disabilities Ireland.

Specifically the DLCG says that effective legislation for people with disabilities needs to combine two approaches:

  • Positive rights to accessible services, needs assessment and advocacy that can be enforceable by individuals;
  • Duties and requirements placed on public and private bodies that are providing services to the public aimed at removing barriers to full participation of people with disabilities in Irish society.

"The human rights model sees people with disabilities as people with the same enforceable rights as everyone else," said Ms Kerins, adding: "The European Year of People with Disabilities 2003 presents a unique opportunity for Ireland to introduce such landmark legislation".