Thursday, 5 July 2018
Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages
I wish to make a couple of comments. It is great to have this piece of work done today. While still acknowledging the caring role we have, we must have a trajectory that brings us from care into independence. It is important that it becomes more about supporting people from the home and out into the local community and into employment. I thank the Minister of State for his remarks about the importance of independent living.
I do not make this point specifically to the Minister of State, who I note referred to the National Disability Authority, which has strong opinions on this issue, but more to my colleagues in this Chamber. I make the point without apportioning blame but I am aware from my own work in the Disability Federation of Ireland that while the public clearly gets the notion of care and respite, which is important, it is a greater challenge for the public to understand how we can assist people to live life independently, that is, to make their own little or big choices, to go on their own journey, to be able to go places independently and to have a sense of themselves as an agent.
Senator Higgins did mention the work that was done between the three committees, namely, the education and skills, health and employment affairs and social protection committees this year. That is just one example of trying to pull together where the gaps fall between particular responsibilities. Given his all-of-Government brief, the Minister of State is very aware of this need to try to bring forward disability inclusion. We will see that challenge in the forthcoming budget - this is not addressed necessarily to the Minister of State as such - and will there be practical measures in health and social protection with regard to employment, housing, accessible public transport, etc.? I refer to some of the issues raised here today. Will measures be taken that go across a range of Departments and that actually stop the impediments for people? Will we see some improvement in the level of basic income or support for people?
It is a good day and I wish the Minister of State well. I hope Members of this House will be of assistance in the different committees and groups they are on to push for what is now a priority for the Government, together with the other issues it has at a national level. To use Senator Higgins's term, they should push for the road to emancipation for people with disabilities.