Submission on the Disability Bill

Over 12 months after the promised delivery date, the Disability Bill was finally published in October 2004. The Bill is just one part of the government's "Disability Strategy", the other elements being the Comhairle Amendment Bill, Key Departmental Sectoral Plans, and a multi-annual funding package. Although it is only one part of this "strategy", the Disability Bill is by far and away the most important element. The strategy lives and dies by its strength. Unfortunately, the legislation as it stands as fundamentally flawed. As regards the Budget 2005, IWA of course welcomes the €½ million grant towards the refurbishment of Cuisle. This is much-needed and will serve our members interests very well. However, the trumpeted €900 million multi-annual funding package is, when properly examined, not as generous as it seems. It is spread over five years in such a way that small, incremental increases of just €50 million are given every year until 2009. As regards the Sectoral Plans, these are limited to just six departments instead of covering all departments. Furthermore, the draft plans as they currently stand are quite vague and only reinforce commitments made in previous partnership agreements. Indeed, the draft plan of the Department Of The Environment makes no mention of housing! This is incredible coming from the Department which funds the Disabled Person's Housing Grant. IWA made a submission to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Issues on the Disability Bill. Our submission backed up concerns raised by our representative organisations, Disability Federation of Ireland and the Not-For-Profit Business Association, as well as a host of other disability organisations. For information on the Joint Committee, click here or Download Submission. The legislation will return to the Oireachtas for debate in February 2005.