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Statement by Minister McGrath on Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Minister for Disabilities,  Finian  McGrath  TD,  announced today on International Day of Persons with Disabilities that he will submit draft legislation to Government next week (Tuesday 5 December) which is a very significant milestone in Ireland’s process for ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

He will be asking the Government to approve publication of these provisions on Deprivation of Liberty for public consultation.

The Deprivation of Liberty provisions are intended to provide safeguards for older people, persons with a disability and certain categories of people with mental health illness to ensure that they are not unlawfully deprived of their liberty in residential facilities. The new safeguards will apply when admitting people to residential facilities when they do not have the capacity to make such decisions.   

He also confirmed that a Director was appointed to lead the Decision Support Service in October and the provision of €3m in Budget 2018 for the new Service.

While Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention is an important landmark for the disability sector, Ireland has been at the forefront of countries in advancing the rights of and the provision of supports and services to people with disabilities.

The  Government  underlined its  ongoing  commitment  to people with disabilities during 2017 through a number  of specific measures:

  • Implementation of key recommendations in the Making Work Report to remove the many barriers for people with disabilities to take up work such as retention of secondary benefits and fast-tracking reinstatement of benefits should the employment cease.
  • Publication of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021.
  • The launch of a new €10m pre-activation programme for young people with disabilities called “Ability”.
  • 1,091 Special Needs Assistants approved in Budget 2018 bringing to 14,120 the total number of SNAs supporting children with disabilities in schools .
  • New model for the allocation of special education teachers was introduced in September  2017 .
  • €2 million provided to initiate a pilot in-school speech and language therapy programme.
  • Under the new Access and Inclusion Model, 2,189 children with disabilities have been supported to participate and benefit from early years education in 2017.
  • Funding for the Housing Adaption Scheme has been increased by €5m to €53m .
  • Further measures to be advanced as part of the new National Disability Inclusion Strategy published in July including new legislation to increase Public Service employment targets from 3% to 6% in line with recommendations of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities .
  • €75 million increase in the allocation for disability services means that funding in 2018 will rise to over €1,763m in 2018, compared to the €1,688m originally allocated in the National Service Plan 2017.  
  • We now have less than 2,600 people with a disability living in congregated settings. The HSE has prioritised the transition of people from congregated settings in 2017 under its Service Plan, and will continue to do so next year. This is being supported by €20m capital funding – €100m over 5 years from 2016 to 2021 in respect of acquiring and refurbishing properties to accommodate individuals transitioning from priority institutions identified by the HSE.
  • All young adults leaving school or rehabilitative training in 2017 would have had access to supports and services which met their needs at one of the most crucial transition points of their lives. The additional funding obtained this year will provide for the full year effect of these additional services in 2017, as well as making sure that the needs of all those leaving school in 2018 will also be addressed.
  • The Task Force on Personalised Budgets was established in September 2016 and has  progressed  its work throughout 2017, including a public consultation and series of regional meetings.
  • €4.5 million was allocated through the Service Reform Fund to support the reform of disability services  towards more person-centred supports.