Disability Federation of Ireland Newsletter April 2008
Issued on April 1 2008
A formal 'midterm' review of the Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016 (T16) takes place during 2008. T16 states that this
'will provide an opportunity to take stock of outcomes achieved in relation to the overall goals and to consider any opportunities arising to refocus and reprioritise.'
T16's Steering Group, representing Government and each of the Social Partner Pillars, launched the review at its plenary meeting in February, and the Group will oversee the review process.
DFI is actively contributing to the Review. The process involves DFI sharing its evaluation of progress with other members of the Community and Voluntary Pillar in order to develop a composite Pillar position, which is being sent to the Government. The C&V Pillar will also be having meetings with all the relevant social representatives to discuss the submission.
DFI's evaluation notes that the list of priority actions in T16 should be regarded as initial steps only and should be largely completed by the end of 2008. Thus commitments such as the Education for Persons with Special Needs Act should be fully implemented, the Personal Advocacy Service should be fully operational, the Employment Strategy for people with a disability should be agreed and published by December 2008.
DFI singles out concerns about the delivery of health and personal support services, especially in view of the pull back in the amount of investment in disability and the continuing core deficits experienced by voluntary organisations. As DFI has frequently observed, delivery on NDS is predicated on appropriate and timely access to health and personal social services, thus the current crisis in health expenditure undermines the entire project.
FI also makes the case for stronger mechanisms to ensure that the breadth of initiatives under T16 address the mainstreaming imperative so that people with a disability can anticipate the future envisaged in T16. For example, DFI proposes that annual audits be conducted to ensure all T16 initiatives are disability-proofed.
DFI considers the Midterm Review an urgently needed opportunity to reinvigorate efforts to reach the vision and long term objectives for people with disabilities that are set out in T16. The Programme for Government (June 2007) stated that
"we will ensure that at least half of the [national disability] Strategy is implemented by 2010."
Yet DFI is greatly concerned that Ireland is not going to get there without much more determined and concerted effort. DFI's proposals are designed to ensure systematic actions are directed at keeping T16 and the NDS on track.