Thursday, 17 November 2022
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
252. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the extent to which efforts continue in relation to integration with particular reference to the need to ensure maximum efforts throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57225/22]
The Migrant Integration Strategy (MIS) was launched in 2017 and concluded at the end of 2021, having been extended for a year due to the impact of COVID-19. The Strategy forms the central policy framework adopted by the Government to promote the integration of all migrants and their Irish-born children across various areas of public policy. The Strategy aims to enhance diversity, inclusion and equity for migrants across all aspects of Irish society. Additionally, the Strategy focuses on social inclusion measures, improved access to public services and aims to address racism and xenophobia and support integration and social cohesion at a local level.
The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has commissioned a joint evaluation of the Migrant Integration Strategy, alongside the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy and the National Strategy for Women and Girls which also concluded in 2021.
The Programme for Government has committed to developing a successor to the Migrant Integration Strategy, and consultations will begin in 2023 and will include input from first generation migrants as well as the second and third generation.
A range of funding programmes have been initiated under the MIS to support integration projects nationwide. These include the National Integration Fund and the Communities Integration Fund.
The DCEDIY administers the National Integration Fund - a three-year funding programme to promote initiatives to address areas where migrants find it difficult to avail of opportunities on an equal basis with other members of Irish society. Following a competitive funding call launched in August 2020, 18 successful projects located throughout Ireland will be granted funding totaling almost €2.2 million over the three-year period.
In June 2022, 124 community projects received funding through the Communities Integration Fund. A total of €566,492.60 will be given to local community-based organisations in the form of grants up to €5,000. These grants will be used to support local organisations allowing them to play a role in welcoming and integrating migrants and refuges into Ireland. The Communities Integration Fund is disbursed annually through an open funding call.
253. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the extent to which he continues to promote and propel issues of assistance to persons with disabilities in line with representations received from the disability sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57226/22]
As Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, I am committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are supported to live the lives they want to. I would also highlight that key achievements have been made across a number of Government Departments in this regard.
My Department receives a significant number of representations from members of the public concerning disability policy development in Ireland. Many of these representations are from disability organisations and those with lived experience of a disability. This is important as the inclusion of people with disabilities in the policy making process is set out as a clear obligation in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and is a priority to me as Minister of State.
Effective and meaningful consultation with people with disabilities and their representative organisations is a critical component of inclusive policy making processes and in that regard, the Disability Participation and Consultation Network (DPCN) was established in 2020 with funding from my Department. The DPCN successfully facilitated a comprehensive and inclusive consultation on Ireland's first State Report under the UNCRPD, and the final Report that was submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in November 2021 benefits greatly from contributions made through this process. The DPCN continues to be an important forum through which people with disabilities, including Disabled Persons Organisations, are supported to become involved in consultations that inform the development of law and policy in Ireland.
The Disability Stakeholder Group (DSG) is another example of a way in which government directly engages with people with disabilities in the policy development process. The DSG is a voluntary group of individuals with expertise and lived experience of disability. It is comprised of 24 members, representing a cross-cut of the disability community, and includes an independent Chairperson.
The DSG has an important role in independently monitoring the implementation of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy (NDIS) and the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities (CES) which are key national frameworks for policy and action to address the rights of persons with disabilities in Ireland.
The NDIS contains over 120 actions and serves to coordinate action at a whole of government level on disability issues. Similarly, the CES serves to coordinate whole of government efforts to increase access to, and participation in, the labour market and employment for persons with disabilities.
Consultation is also at the centre of current efforts to develop a national Autism Innovation Strategy. As the first step in the development of the strategy, a public consultation was launched in April 2022 to gather feedback, opinions and insights into the current supports and services provided and to identify specific issues to be addressed by the strategy. These insights will feed directly into a first draft of the Autism Innovation Strategy. Efforts are also underway to appoint an Oversight and Advisory Group to oversee implementation of the strategy. It is intended that this group will represent lived experience as much as possible. Once a draft strategy has been published, a further public consultation will be carried out to give people the chance to have their say before the strategy is finalised and adopted.
The Government is furthermore committed to developing a UNCRPD Implementation Plan and I look forward to working through the development of this Plan in consultation with people with disabilities and their representative organisations.
254. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the extent, if any, to which he remains satisfied that issues of equality are fully honoured in situations where mothers of children find themselves in the family law courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57227/22]
255. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the extent to which he continues to interact with youth organisations throughout the country with a view to identifying their priorities and providing assistance if and when required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57228/22]
Officials from my Department meet with various youth organisations on an individual basis when the need arises, in regular formal meetings with individual organisations or as a group, and by maintaining informal contacts.
My Department provides funding to all 16 Education and Training Boards (ETB) to support youth services in their area and to support the work of the Youth Officer. Youth Officers provide an important support role to my Department in the co-ordination and administration of youth services at local level. My officials hold quarterly meetings with the ETBs and these meetings assist my Department in identifying service needs and emerging issues, particularly for vulnerable young people.
My officials also maintain contact with all 30 national youth organisations funded under the Youth Service Grant Scheme and with Gaisce. This has included meetings twice a year in an open forum attended by myself and officials. These meetings took place online during COVID-19 but the first in-person meeting of this group took place this week on November 16th. This meeting provided a fantastic opportunity for my officials and I to connect with the sector in this forum in person for the first time since 2019.
The Department will continue to ensure there is sufficient engagement with this important sector which provides enormous value to young people.