April 2010 Newsletter
Issued on April 1 2010
Leaving aside the focus of public commentary on the Cabinet changes we might wonder what they mean for the implementation of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) In the new Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, under newly appointed Minister Pat Carey, we have the coming together of issues relating to equality, disability, integration and human rights from the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform (DJELR). This creates a potentially positive mix where areas such as responsibility for social inclusion, the NDA, the Disability Equality Unit, Equality Authority, Equality Tribunal, and responsibility for community, including the Charities Act, all fall to one Minister, where they constitute a major part of that Minister”s responsibility. Given that the rights issue for disabled people is one of having easy and reliable access to social and community participation, should we then be hopeful that the fusion of the social inclusion and equality agendas will serve to push forward the implementation of the NDS?
It is now five years since Government gave its commitment to the Disability Legislation Consultative Group (DLCG - the precursor to the current Disability Stakeholders Group (DSG) to have the Cabinet Handbook amended so that there would be disability proofing of all substantive matters of policy and legislation going to Cabinet. Despite this matter being consistently raised by the DSG, through their participation in the NDS Stakeholders Monitoring (NDSSMG) Group with Government , the matter is still outstanding.
Last month we were critical of the failure of Government to produce its promised NDS Recession Implementation Plan. Both parties in Government are keen to talk up their jointly agreed “Renewed Programme for Government” as the focus of their work following the recent Cabinet changes. Protecting the NDS is a key commitment in that document.
Minister Carey now has critical resources directly within his remit in order to progress implementation of the NDS during this recession. Is disability just being passed on without any ambition to deal with the issues? We will know soon enough.