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Working group needed to facilitate transition of sheltered workshops to places of employment - McDonald

27 August, 2007

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin and party Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald has today called on government to put in place a working group to cohesively address the impending transition of sheltered workshops for the intellectually disabled to places of employment.

Ms McDonald said:

“Reports in today’s media illustrate starkly the widespread abuse of those working in sheltered workshops. Many of the 4,000 people working in sheltered workshops delivering products that earn an income and/or deliver a service for an employer are effectively not paid at all and experience various levels of bullying.

“Despite the Department of Health publishing a draft code of practice for sheltered occupational services in 2003 the definition of what constitutes ‘work’ and ‘occupational activity’ remains blurred as the proposed code of practice has never been adopted. We need to ask why not.

“Those with intellectual disabilities working in sheltered workshops should be entitled to the same employment rights, terms and conditions as all other workers. Whilst I welcome the HSE’s investigation into this matter they, the Department of Health and particularly Taoiseach Ahern must shoulder the blame for allowing this situation to develop under the watch of successive Fianna Fáil led governments.

"A working group comprising of key stakeholders such as Inclusion Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland, ICTU, the Departments of Health and Children and Enterprise, Trade & Employment must be set up to coincide with the HSE’s investigation conclusions due in May of next year. The remit of the working group should be the delivery of a proposed framework to facilitate the transition of sheltered workshops to places of employment.” CRíOCH




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