I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 12, 15, 18 and 32 together.
I have not yet received the report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities although I understand that the commission expects to submit it to me shortly. Good progress has been made by the ad hoc establishment group since I set it up in April of last year and I am advised that the work on drafting the provisional constitution for the Council for the Status of People with Disabilities is close to completion. The interim council is due to be set up at a national convention in Dublin Castle on 25 June next.
The commission has been examining the current situation of people with a disability, including people with a mental handicap, and the organisation and adequacy of existing services, both public and voluntary, to meet their needs. The commission's report is expected to recommend the most far-reaching proposals for ending the marginalisation of people with disabilities since the foundation of the State. Its recommendations will, I am informed, involve a combination of legislative solutions, new policy initiatives and new structures for delivery of quality services within a framework of rights, not charity. Until I receive the report, however, and have had the opportunity of considering its specific recommendations, I do not consider it appropriate to comment further on what it may contain. I am looking forward to receiving the commission's report and will give its recommendations very careful consideration to see what measures will be required by me, and my colleagues in Government, to improve the position of people with disabilities.
An officer of my Department is a member of the monitoring committee on the employment of people with disabilities which operates under the terms of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work. IBEC is also represented on this committee which pays particular attention to the issue of facilitating the employment of people with disabilities in both the public and private sectors. My Department also maintains contact with IBEC with a view to exploring possibilities for improving the employment prospects for people with disabilities in the private sector. In this way, I am kept informed of developments and can consider any actions, in my area of responsibility, which might be appropriate.
The commission's report, I understand, will deal comprehensively with the issue of the training and employment of people with disabilities and will be making recommendations geared towards significantly improving the employment prospects of people with disabilities.