Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Government failure results in a life time of unemployment for majority of disabled workers

10 February, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment, Arthur Morgan T.D. today questioned the An Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment on the findings of a report recently published by the National Disability Authority entitled 'Towards Best Practice in the Provision of Further Education, Employment and Training Services'. Deputy Morgan called on An Tánaiste to implement the recommendations of the Report and to explain the failure to achieve labour force participation targets for disabled people.

Deputy Morgan said

"The findings of this Report are disappointing in terms of the lack of progress which has been made over the decades in enabling people with disabilities to enter the work force. The failure by An Tánaiste to make any significant progress after six years at the helm of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment condemns the majority of disabled workers in this State to a life time of unemployment. What confidence can we have in the measures the Minister is taking when there has been a failure to implement the 3% target for the civil and public service set in 1977?

"The desire of people with disabilities to enter the workforce can be seen from their high percentage participation in CE schemes. However less than 10% of people with disabilities progress from CE to the open labour market indicating that they are not being facilitated in making this transition. The enormous contribution which people with disabilities can make by their participation in the work force is not being recognised or encouraged."

"I reject the statement by the Minister of State, Mr Fahey that "There are a variety of reasons why we have not reached the targets set. These relate to historic and cultural issues in the past relating to people with disabilities". The Government has a responsibility to ensure targets are set and met. Such statements only show that the Governments is evading its responsibility in this matter.

Deputy Morgan further asked An Tánaiste if she accepted that the removal of medical cards and secondary benefits on the uptake of employment acts as a disincentives to the uptake of employment by people with disabilities. He concluded by saying

"I am calling on the Minister the implement the findings of this Report including the recommendation for an increase in the wage threshold for the retention of the medical card for people with disabilities in employment and the retention of secondary benefits for a substantial period of time; that the employment quota for the recruitment of people with disabilities in the public sector should be strengthened with effective enforcement mechanisms and remedies in order to achieve the 3% employment target in both the civil and public services; that the public sector must be entitled to draw down supports in order to make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in employment to assist in meeting the 3% targets and the development administrative structures to carry out a comprehensive needs assessment which would address the further education, training and employment needs of people with disabilities to direct them to the appropriate service." ENDS

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