Congress Disability Committee meets with Minister Finian McGrath

27 Mar 2018


The Congress Disability Committee met recently (26 March 2018) with the Minister of State with Responsibilities for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath TD.

This followed from a commitment made by Minister McGrath to meet with the Committee to engage on ‘issues of common interest’, as he had been unavailable to attend our annual Disability Seminar, which was held  in Portlaoise in February.

The meeting was opened by Chair Claire Mahon, who provided an overview of the Committee’s work. The Minister outlined the major issues currently being dealt with by his department  and there followed a question and answer session and discussion with members of the Committee.

Among some of the key issues raised were:

Committee members welcomed the recent agreement to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (due to become law on April 19) and expressed concern about the fact that the government had chosen not to sign the optional protocol (which allows people to bring complaints to the UN);

The urgent need for a new transport support scheme to replace the axed Mobility Allowance;

The Minister informed us that the task force on personalised budgets had completed their work;

The recent Nano Nagle case was raised with the Minister (a case which is of grave concern to the movement because of the possible implications on the obligations of employers to provide reasonable accommodation to people);

The Minister informed people about the recent launch of the Ability programme and encouraged trade union participation in the Make Work Pay consultation;

Remaining barriers for people with disabilities (particularly intellectual disabilities) in third level colleges (including lack of part time options and long waiting lists for supports);

''Remaining barriers for people with disabilities (particularly intellectual disabilities) in third level colleges (including lack of part time options and long waiting lists for supports)''  

Students with disabilities including physical, hearing, visual, dyslexia, autism and mental health issues - the need to extend supports to part-time students with disabilities that are at present only available to full-time students with disabilities.Those students follow the normal 3rd level course. In addition, funding has not kept  pace with the increase in the number of students with disability entering third level courses. 

Supporting students with intellectual disability - the danger of the closing of a programme for students with intellectual disability in Maynooth for some years

The need for a significant increase in personal assistant supports was raised as a real barrier to inclusion;

The role of the intellectual disability nurse and their expertise;

Need for restoring of training allowance for teachers at second level.

Finally Minister McGrath told the Committee that he was considering the invitation from Chair of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities in his annual progress report to convene an employer / trade union summit, to focus on addressing how we can tackle barriers for people with disabilities accessing the labour market.