Thursday, 11 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Minister of State for her positive response and encourage her to keep working on this. Disability and intellectual disability are a continuum, as the Minister of State well knows. Some children and young people, as the Minister suggested, can be trained and taught how to use public transport and navigate the system and so on. There are others on the other end of the spectrum, however, who cannot and will never be able to do that and who will need to be guided and brought from the door of their home to the door of their training centre and back again. If that is in a remote rural area, it is very difficult.
What I want to see happening from next September on is that parents know who to contact. Quite often, if they contact the service provider, the school or the training centre, it seems to fall on those to provide the service. They are at a loss and say they do not have the resources or the know-how, that they cannot do and it is not their role anyway. We need to have a situation where, every September, when these young people transition from second level to the training centres and workshops, to go to work like any other young adult who goes to work or further training does, that it is seamless, clear and painless for their parents, in particular, and that they know who to contact to get support. The Minister of State could consider a one-stop-shop or a hotline that parents could ring up and explain their situation, that they are living in one place and their child has a training place in another location 30 miles away, where they could find out how to get their child from A to B safely, and explain that the child cannot navigate public transport safely even though he or she free travel on public transport, and that the parents would be very worried about putting him or her on a bus, especially if he or she had to change buses or services, as can happen in some cases.
I am glad the Minister of State is taking this seriously. I will support her, as would all of us here, in solving this problem. I am sure it is not rocket science to do so. There just needs to be a focus on it. It is really great to see young adults like these, who face the challenges they face, being able to leave their homes and go out into the world, to a training centre with their friends or to other education and training. In the past, young adults like these stayed at home and never got anywhere. We need to do more to support them in getting there and in reaching their full potential.