Sinn Féin - On Your Side

New disability legislation requires greater support

1 October, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Disability, Mid Ulster Assembly member Geraldine Dougan has welcomed the coming into force today of the final part of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) that requires all businesses to be accessible to disabled people but added that more support is required to enable businesses to respond properly to the legislation.

Ms Dougan said:

"This piece of legislation is very welcome. It places the legal responsibility on businesses to become accessible to disabled people. Firms that deliberately ignore the new law risk heavy fines.

"This should be looked as an opportunity for businesses to open up to the many disabled people who have difficulty in accessing services. This is a huge number of people who have not been able to access services and businesses. A huge number of people who have been denied the right to full and active participation in society.

"However, it is clear that direct rule ministers should have listened to business leaders who made calls for support to help them implement this new legislation. For example there have been calls for tax breaks for businesses that invest in disabled access or for more grant aid.

"Any legislation is only as effective as its implementation. My concern is that businesses will miss out on the opportunity this legislation creates and, more importantly, that the intention to open up access to businesses, shops and services will not be fully carried forward." ENDS

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