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Minister shirks responsibility of ensuring arts access to people with disabilities – Tóibín

22 June, 2017

Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Arts Peadar Tóibín TD has expressed his disappointment at Minister Heather Humphreys and the lack of oversight regarding access to the arts for people with disabilities.

In response to a parliamentary question the Deputy put to the Minister, the Minister has said that there has been no audit of state institutions in receipt of public funding to measure their levels of access to arts audiences and practitioners with disabilities.

Deputy Tóibín said: 

“We are disappointed that the Minister for outsourcing her own responsibilities. She is the head of the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht and despite all her effusive claims to support the arts, the rights of arts access for those with disabilities is not being monitored by the department.  

“The Minister has said that the Arts Council policy is due to be reviewed and that an audit of this nature is a ‘matter for the Arts Council to consider in the context of its policy’. Surely the Minister must have some influence on whether or not the rights of those with disabilities are being considered in this regard?

“According to the latest census, 13.5% of the population have a disability. That is approximately 600,000 people who are potentially affected from being able to engage with and enjoy the arts with no mechanisms in place to ensure that access levels are adequate.

“There are many easy ways for venues to improve access to the arts, and many venues do indeed offer excellent facilities. However I am concerned by the fact that state funded institutions and organisations simply are not being assessed, and even more concerned by the ease with which the Minister can dismiss her own responsibilities in this regard.” 

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