28 Beal 2018, 12.38
Several people with disabilities will appear on Tuesday before three Joint Committees of the Oireachtas to discuss the challenges they have experienced in accessing and funding support services, particularly as they move from education to employment.
The meeting of the Committees – Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Education and Skills, and Health – is their second to investigate how state-funded supports for people with disabilities operate in practice. A third session is planned for June.
The scheduled witnesses for Tuesday's meeting at 12 p.m. in Committee Room 1, Leinster House, include:
- Jessica Ní Mhaoláin, who is visually impaired and, with support from a state-funded Special Needs Assistant, graduated in 2016 with an MA in Government from University College Cork;
- Padraic Moran, a Paralympics medalist for Ireland who has found that the benefits system penalizes full-time workers like himself;
- Eileen Daly, a wheelchair user who counsels students with disabilities for the Rehab Group in partnership with City of Dublin Education and Training Board;
- Gary Kearney, an acquired brain injury survivor with partial deafness who presents a disability information show on Dublin City FM;
- Paul Alford, a self-advocacy project worker for Inclusion Ireland who has forged his own home life with support from “personalised budgets” financial aid; and
- Dina McAnaspie, who is studying computers and literacy, working four hours a week and trying to find a full-time job.
“The Joint Committees already have heard evidence of how the system supports our citizens with disabilities during certain chapters of their lives, notably in school or training programmes, but these supports can be lost or reduced on graduation,” said John Curran TD, Chairman of the Joint Committee on Employment Affairs and Social Protection, who is leading Tuesday’s meeting.
“Our witnesses should provide a more vividly personal picture of how current policy impacts the lives of tens of thousands of our family members, neighbours and colleagues,” Deputy Curran said. “The Joint Committees hope to recommend policy reforms that will help people with disabilities to retain supports as they transition from education or training into employment.”
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