Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Rural and Community Development

National Disability Strategy

Pauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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9. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the steps she has taken to implement action 127 of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43212/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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A Mid-Term Review of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy was published in January 2020. This review provided an opportunity to refresh the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, to modify existing actions, and to add new actions.

Action 127 was a new commitment made within the context of the forthcoming rural development policy, to work to improve accessibility for people with disabilities living in rural areas.

My Department is currently finalising the whole-of-Government rural policy, which will deliver a wide range of measures over the next 5 years to address issues that matter to people who live and work in rural Ireland.

The Policy will place an emphasis on building the participation and inclusion of rural communities, as well as access to services. The importance of meeting the needs of all cohorts in rural areas, including people with disabilities, will be referenced.

Amongst the measures which will further support people with disabilities living in rural areas is the rollout of high speed broadband. This will enable improved access to digital services and increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including through remote working.

Other commitments in the policy relating to people with disabilities are likely to relate to accessible public transport services, and developing disability-friendly environments.

My Department continues to provide funding to support people with disabilities as well as other groups under schemes such as the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP). Between January 2018 and June 2020, a total of 5,169 individuals who registered as having a disability were supported under SICAP, along with 312 local community groups and 25 social enterprises providing supports to people with a disability.

The Community Services Programme also currently supports over 420 community organisations to provide services to disadvantaged communities including persons with disabilities. For example, Childhood Days for Children with Learning Disability CLG in Leitrim, receives funding of €130k to manage a childcare service for children with special needs in Drumshanbo Co Leitrim. Sesame Building Services CLG in Roscommon receives funding of €258k towards the cost providing supported employment including transport for people with intellectual disabilities.

Finally, this year my Department has provided almost €700,000 for the provision of sensory facilities and equipment in public libraries. In addition, since 2019 I have paid €1.3 million under the Dormant Accounts Fund for library supports to disadvantaged, socially excluded and marginalised communities, including initiatives for people with disabilities.

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