FG sets up disability watchdog

A COMMITTEE dedicated to monitoring Government activities in relation to the disabled has been set up by Fine Gael.

The parliamentary committee on disabilities which will be chaired by Cork East Deputy David Stanton will monitor disability-related issues across all departments, including: health, education, environment, justice, social and family affairs, transport and finance.

The move has been welcomed by disability groups, including the Irish Progressive Association for Autism, who says it has been voiceless until now.

"We are absolutely delighted that a mainstream party has recognised that the disabled need a voice," IPAA spokesman Kieran Kennedy said.

"Up until now, when a party determined a policy, they took no notice of the disabled, we were the forgotten voice," Mr Kennedy said.

"But now, for the first time, people will have to take notice of what we are saying and hopefully the Fine Gael move will put pressure on all the major parties to follow suit," he said.

The National Association for the Mentally Handicapped in Ireland (NAMHI) has also welcomed the move.

"The whole notion of a committee with a cross-departmental watching brief has long been needed," NAMHI general secretary Deirdre Carroll said.

"One of the things that has made it difficult for the disabled in the past is the tendency to compartmentalise their needs," Ms Carroll said.

"It is important for us that the impact of a disability on all aspects of life is recognised," she said.

The committee will also keep a close eye on any disability-related legislation which the Government puts before the Dáil.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the committee would be responsible for developing and refining the party's policy positions on disability.

Mr Kenny said it would also help raise the political profile of disability-related issues in every constituency.

"The committee will hold hearings and meetings in Dublin and around the country with representative groups and will invite submissions on policy issues," he said.

"I believe there should be no barriers to inclusion."

Deputy Stanton said the presence of the dedicated group would also ensure that the Government did not try to slip through change detrimental to the disabled.

The Labour Party refused to say if it would set up a similar disability group.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.