National Advocacy Service welcomed, however there are concerns for the lack of implementation of the EPSEN Act.

Children with DisabilitiesServices for People with Disabilities-13th October

I also welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Áine Brady.  It is no harm to remember there are 400,000 people with a disability in this country, of whom 24% are unable to cope with day-to-day activity and ordinary living. There is a risk in an economic downturn that the people concerned would become victims.

We have to have sound values and core principles and beliefs dictating public policy. A society predicated on proper Christian principles and values should value and cherish people with disabilities who in no way should become victims and dupes for years of incompetence, hubris and greed. They should never be victimised. This important principle needs to be restated.

I welcome the establishment of the national advocacy service and have no problem with it. My party and I, because it is our job to so do, rightly condemn the tardiness of its introduction and the way in which there has been a type of West Clare railway approach to it. However, it has been born eventually and we are happy with this.

I refer to the EPSEN Act. It is a great tragedy, wrong and a mistake that the Act has not been fully implemented. Its practical implementation would bring about an educational plan for students with specific disabilities which would extend over the year, be the subject of review and ensure the availability of language therapy and psychological services and proper assistance for a child. It would give him or her the right to a plan specific to his or her needs and specific supports. It is a great indictment of the Government that it has not implemented the Act. It is an indictment of its value system, of both Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, both of which should stand condemned on the issue. It is necessary to implement the Act and cast in stone the rights of children and schools. The IEPs, individual education plans, currently in place are not the same and do not have the same legislative effect or rights base.

I am interested to hear the Minister of State’s comments on and see her further pursuit of the use of quotas in local authorities, health boards and public bodies to provide work for people with disabilities. From my experience of dealing with such issues, what is happening in all of these bodies is that people within them who have accidents and develop disabilities are meeting the quota and kept on. I am not sure the quota system is being implemented properly. I would like to know if there are quotas in place and what is being done about them. We should employ people with disabilities as of right through a quota system in health boards, local authorities and public bodies.

It is a pity the carer strategy has not been implemented. I refer to the carers who attended the Houses today to lobby. They do great work. Whatever about the social and lifestyle benefits they offer, the effect of the economic benefits they offer has never fully dawned on us. The savings in institutional care achieved by carers are enormous and should be applauded.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website