Business of Joint Committee

Apologies have been received from Senators McGreehan and O'Loughlin. Before we begin, I want to address recent media coverage regarding the cancellation of a private meeting on 16 December. I firmly believe the media coverage misrepresented the commitment and work of the committee and members individually and as a group in respect of the issues we are charged with discussing. This caused hurt to members but more importantly to the relationship between the disability community and the committee and the community's trust in the sincerity of the committee over the past 12 months. Since its establishment, the committee has focused on issues and on ensuring that the lived experience and analysis of those with a disability, their carers and disabled people's organisations inform its work. This is a hugely important committee. We believe the voice of people with disabilities has been actively heard under the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and it must continue to influence and inform policy and be heard by all sectors of society.

This is crucial work for the committee in a society that has marginalised and excluded people with disabilities over time and its history. There is transformative power behind the motto "nothing about us without us" and our committee takes this very much to heart. The implementation of the UNCRPD, which this committee is focused on, must be at the forefront of what we do.

I cannot say how proud I am to have worked with the committee and all of its members over the past 12 months. It has been a privilege to watch the commitment and sincerity of each member of the committee as we discussed issues and witnessed powerful testimonies brought before us. With each committee member from Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, together with the disability community, I want to work to build a consensus between all so we can deliver for people with disabilities, their families, their communities and their carers as they go forward.