Launch of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy
2017 - 2021
Speech by Minister Finian McGrath
10am on 14 July 2017
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the launch of the new National Disability Inclusion Strategy for the years 2017 – 2021. This is an all of Government Strategy which is aimed at significantly improving the lives of people with disabilities in a practical sense, and also in creating the best possible opportunities for people with disabilities to fulfil their potential.
Since mid-2015, the Department of Justice and Equality has coordinated a comprehensive public consultation in relation to the drafting of this Inclusion Strategy.
As Chair of the Steering Group since May 2016, I’ve had the privilege of observing how the Strategy took shape, and improved and broadened in scope as inputs from those taking part in the consultations were incorporated at all three stages.
I want to acknowledge the hard work of everyone involved, and I want to thank all of the officials from departments and agencies, everyone from the Disability Sector, and the individuals with lived experience who contributed to the consultation process and to the development of the Strategy. I think it is a valuable step forward in the lives of people with disabilities in Ireland.
Although the Strategy is being officially launched today, significant work is already underway across multiple departments in relation to some of the Strategy’s key commitments. I launched the Taskforce on Personalised Budgets in September of last year, and it will report to me by the end of the year. In April of this year, the Make Work Pay Report was launched and many of the recommendations in the report are already being implemented. In addition to implementing actions contained in the Strategy, I also secured an increase in Budget 2017 of €92 million for Disability Services bringing the annual total to €1.654bn. And I regard the provision of medical cards for nearly 10,000 children in receipt of Domiciliary Care Allowance to be of the most significant and meaningful reforms that I’ve overseen since my appointment. But – there is much more I want to do. The hard work of implementing this Strategy begins now, and as Chair of the Steering Group, my aim will be to ensure that it results in real and concrete change for the better for children and adults with disabilities.
One of the really important issues currently is how we support the Deaf Community, recognise Irish Sign language, provide a right to free interpretation when accessing statutory services and make sure that Irish Sign Language Interpreters are properly trained and accredited. We have been in negotiation on the Private Members’ Bill that is currently before the Seanad and I invited Sign Language Interpretation Services (SLIS) to let me have a funding proposal in relation to setting up a standards-based accreditation scheme for interpreters, training and on-going professional development of interpreters. I am delighted to announce that I have the agreement of the relevant Government colleagues that we will fund this. The details will be announced at Budget time, and SLIS, Department of Social Protection and Employment officials and the Citizens Information Board now need to sit down to finalise the details. But the necessary money will be in place as from the start of 2018 to fund the commitments in the Strategy that relate to Irish Sign Language and the objectives of the Bill that we will debate again next week.
I am now delighted therefore to formally launch the Inclusion Strategy. There are some copies of it available here today, and there is also an easy read version. In addition, an Irish Sign Language video of the Strategy is currently in production and will be available soon. The strategy will also be available for download at the Department of Justice website, justice.ie, later today.
I hope that you will join with us now to celebrate the launch of this Inclusion Strategy and to enjoy some well-earned refreshments.