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Sinn Féin open up debate on Commissioner for the Disabled

7 December, 2007

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has called for the creation of a new Commissioner with responsibility for ensuring the rights of disabled people are protected and promoted.

Ms Anderson said:

"Thanks in a large part to the work of Sinn Féin we now have a Commissioner for Children and Young People and direct Ministerial responsibility within the Office of the First and deputy First Minister and a commitment from them to look at the establishment of Commissioner for Older People.

"Those are extremely welcome developments but Sinn Féin believes that there should now be similar provision for disabled people.

"People with disabilities face hardships in many walks of life, particularly gaining access to education, health services and employment.

"I invited a large cross-section of disability support groups to the Assembly this week so they could talk to Assembly members about the issues they face.

"I was very moved and impressed by their contributions and, in many cases, I was shocked to hear about the discrimination that many disabled people face in their daily lives.

"There is a wealth of legislation intended to protect the rights of disabled people but I am in no doubt that some sort of body needs to be created to ensure that legislation is being respected at every level of society.

"It's estimated that one in five people here have some form of disability and it is unacceptable that such a large section of our society has been failed for so long.

"Sinn Féin now intends to open up the debate on this issue and we will be calling on the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister to open up a dialogue with the disabled sector and to explore how we can best ensure that their rights and entitlements are guaranteed." ENDS

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