Seanad debates

Wednesday, 22 November 2023

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Disability Services

10:30 am

Photo of Jennifer Carroll MacNeillJennifer Carroll MacNeill (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

It is the least we can do to walk the walk. I will never forget the Senator's contribution to the Oireachtas event held by Ceann Comhairle on gender, inclusion and a range of different matters. He correctly pointed out that as the only Member of the Oireachtas with a declared disability, nothing had been provided to him in a way that was respectful of his needs. I always bring a copy for him in that format regardless of whether he is here because it is important to be consistent and practical. I thank the Senator for acknowledging it.

The way we adapt this scheme has to be flexible and thoughtful. We cannot include everything and we do not necessarily want to include everything but we need to recognise that disabilities are different and that many people have invisible disabilities. It is important to see a collective understanding of that on the part of the Government. I see that the Minister for Social Protection has reflected on that in respect of epilepsy, the impact of a seizure ruling somebody out of driving potentially for a year and what that means in terms of the availability of public transport supports.

Disabilities are complex, different and very individual and they affect people differently at different stages of their lives irrespective of the status of the disability overall. What we would love to see coming out of this scheme is a scheme that has the flexibility and the intelligence to reflect this variety and the fact that these are changing needs over time while making sure we are getting the right supports to people who need them when they need them.

I acknowledge that, as the Senator is right to highlight, the existing scheme is completely out of date. I thank him for raising the matter and I assure him that this work will continue apace in the Department of Finance.


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