Thursday, 10 September 2020
Services for People with Disabilities: Statements
Anne Rabbitte (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
The other Deputies also raised vital points. I touched on transport. On funding for school leavers and those transitioning to adult services, the sum available is €12.5 million. That issue is being addressed by the different providers and through the school leaver programme.
One contributor stated there was no funding available for the reopening of adult services. A sum of €40 million was provided as part of the Covid-19 reopening which was in addition to the €484 million allocated for budget 2020.
There is a programme for Government commitment to ratify the optional protocol after reporting first cycle which I believe is due in December 2020. Additional funding is being sought for day services through the winter plan, which I explained to Deputy Harkin.
Transport is huge issue all round. What I will do, having taken notes today, is discuss this matter with the Department and HSE. Where a service provided before Covid-19 is not being provided on the resumption of services during Covid-19, I will need to get a better understanding of that because I do not understand why a service has fallen. If a person is returning to a reduced service for two days a week, it is hard to comprehend that we are not able to provide him or her with the transport we provided pre-Covid. I will look into that. I have addressed assessments of need.
The carer's allowance is a matter for the Minister with responsibility for social protection, Deputy Humphreys. The Minister and I will certainly have a conversation on that.
A Deputy stated that this portfolio should have been placed in the Department of the Taoiseach. Decisions on appointments and where functions reside are far above my pay grade. At the same time, in my function as Minister of State with responsibility for disability, I am not afraid to talk to the Minister of State with responsibility for special education, Deputy Madigan, or the Minister with responsibility for transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, or anyone else to ensure we join the dots. If anything, we have learned that cross-departmental work is often vital where disability is concerned because it cuts through Government. I would like to think I am communicator and I will be able to deal with people.
One of the best speeches this evening was made by Deputy Leddin from Limerick. He articulated very well the challenges faced by people with disabilities in their active lives and in their day as they try to get around. When developing county development plans and doing remedial work in our local towns and villages, we should keep in mind how people with disabilities can access their route around their locality. That is important.
I thank Deputies for their constructive contributions to this afternoon's debate. I have listened and noted all points and I assure them, as I did earlier, that I will do everything within my capacity as Minister of State to improve the lives of those with disabilities. Across Government, a programme of reconfiguration of services has been under way to support people with disabilities to make the types of choices available to other adults in an environment that is as accessible to them as it is to everyone else in society and to support them to live the lives they want to lead. The recently published Programme for Government: Our Shared Future continues this theme of reconfiguration by making a number of crucial commitments and we believe it will deliver supports in a manner that promotes empowerment and improves quality of life.