In line with the Programme for Government commitment a National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan (NDSIP) was published in July 2013 following significant consultation and consideration between relevant Government Departments and representatives of a broad range of disability organisations. This Plan sets out the practical measures that will be taken to advance the National Disability Strategy over the period 2013 to 2015.
In addition to the ongoing implementation of the actions being undertaken by the relevant Government Departments, two new initiatives are currently being progressed. These are the drafting of a comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities and a review of the Implementation Plan with respect to how it addresses the needs of people with autism.
A draft framework for the Employment Strategy was issued for consultation with all relevant stakeholders in August. Work is ongoing to finalise this Strategy.
I have also requested the NDA to examine how the Implementation Plan reflects the needs of people with autism. The NDA, as part of that examination, engaged in a consultation exercise with autism stakeholders and examined existing service provision across relevant departments for people with disabilities. The outcome of this process is being examined at present.
The Government intends to proceed to ratification of the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. As the Deputy may be aware, Ireland does not become party to treaties until it is first in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by them, including the amendment of domestic law as necessary.
An interdepartmental committee on the Convention is reviewing the remaining legislative and administrative actions required to enable ratification. As part of its work programme, the committee has identified issues to be considered by various Departments and examination of these issues is ongoing. At the request of the committee, the National Disability Authority, the lead statutory agency for the sector, has also assisted in assessing remaining requirements for ratification to ensure that all outstanding issues will be comprehensively addressed.
For my Department, one of the key requirements is the enactment of capacity legislation. The Programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce a Bill in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill, published on 17 July 2013, provides a series of options to support people with impaired capacity to make decisions and exercise their basic rights in line with the principles of the UN Convention. It undertakes a comprehensive reform of existing legislation governing capacity. The Bill will go to Committee Stage shortly. The enactment of this legislation is one of the core elements of the remaining work to be completed to enable ratification by the State of the UN Convention.