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Ireland

A. UN Convention status

A1. Ratification or conclusion of the UN Convention

Ireland signed the UN Convention on 30 March 2007 and ratified it on 20 March 2018 after a motion was agreed by the Dáil (Irish parliament) on 7 March 2018. The Convention took legal effect in Ireland on 19 April 2018.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

A2. Ratification or accession to the Optional Protocol

Ireland has not signed or ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention. The Roadmap to Ratification of the CRPD stated that the government would sign and ratify the Optional Protocol at the same time that the government ratified the CRPD. However, Ireland ratified the CRPD on 20 March 2018 and did not sign or ratify the Optional Protocol. In a response to a parliamentary question on 17 April 2018, the Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath T.D outlined that Ireland would ratify the Optional Protocol after completing a number of legislative amendments including the enactment of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016, commencement in full of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and the establishment of the Decision Support Service under that Act.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

A3. Declarations, Reservations and Objections

Ireland has entered a reservation on Article 27 which reads as follows: "Ireland accepts the provisions of the Convention, subject to the understanding that none of its obligations relating to equal treatment in employment and occupation shall apply to the admission into or service in any of the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána (Ireland’s National Police Service), the Prison Service, the Fire Brigade, the Irish Coastguard and the Ambulance Service.".

Ireland has also entered reservations and declarations regarding Article 12 and Article 14 of the Convention. They read as follows:
Article 12
"Ireland recognises that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life. Ireland declares its understanding that the Convention permits supported and substitute decision-making arrangements which provide for decisions to be made on behalf of a person, where such arrangements are necessary, in accordance with the law, and subject to appropriate and effective safeguards. To the extent article 12 may be interpreted as requiring the elimination of all substitute decision making arrangements, Ireland reserves the right to permit such arrangements in appropriate circumstances and subject to appropriate and effective safeguards."

Declaration: Articles 12 and 14
"Ireland recognises that all persons with disabilities enjoy the right to liberty and security of person, and a right to respect for physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others. Furthermore, Ireland declares its understanding that the Convention allows for compulsory care or treatment of persons, including measures to treat mental disorders, when circumstances render treatment of this kind necessary as a last resort, and the treatment is subject to legal safeguards.”

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

A4. Comprehensive review

On 21 October 2015 the Department of Justice released a Roadmap to Ratification that sets out a schedule of legislative amendments that must be ratified prior to the CRPD ratification.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2016-05-02

A5. Focal point

The 2015 Roadmap to Ratification designates the Human Rights and Equality Division in the Department of Justice as the focal point. Since the UN Convention was ratified in March 2018 there have been no updates on the focal point, however, the Department's website notes that it is responsible for coordinating the work needed for ratification.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

A6. Coordination mechanism

The 2015 Roadmap to CRPD Ratification does not include any plans for a coordination mechanism.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2016-05-02

A7. Independent mechanism

In a statement released after Dáil Éireann, Ireland's national parliament, approved the motion to ratify the UNCRPD, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) set out its role in establishing a mechanism for a national independent monitoring framework for the Convention. The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016, which will place IHREC's role on a statutory footing and allow for the establishment of an advisory committee including people with disabilities, is expected to be passed before the end of 2018.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

A8. Official reporting

The initial state report to the CRPD Committe will be due two years from the date of ratification. Since Ireland has not yet ratified, no process of preparing a report is currently underway, although it is likely that bi-annual progress reports currently prepared under the National Disability Strategy may feed into this process as a basis for reporting progress.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2015-03-03

A9. Shadow reporting

Since Ireland has not yet ratified the Convention it is too early to determine how a shadow report will be prepared. However, the disability organisations represented on the Disability Stakeholders Group and the National Disability Strategy Stakeholders Monitoring Group could potentially be involved, or a collaborative network of stakeholders may form, as for the law reform process on legal capacity.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-11

B. General legal framework

B1. Anti-discrimination legislation

Article 40(1) of the Irish Constitution states that all persons shall be held equal before the law. The Employment Equality Acts (EEA) 1998-2015 and the Equal Status Acts (ESA) 2000-2012 are the principal pieces of anti-discrimination law in Ireland. Both acts prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability.

The EEA promotes equality, prohibits discrimination (with some exemptions) in relation to employment on the basis of nine grounds: gender, family status, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief, racial or ethnic origin and membership of the Traveller community. In addition to discrimination, the Act prohibits harassment, sexual harassment and victimisation. The Act requires that appropriate measures for people with disabilities in relation to access, participation and training in employment be taken by employers, and further allows for positive action measures to be adopted with the aim to ensure full equality in practice. The provision of reasonable accommodation should amount to no more than a nominal cost on the employer. What amounts to nominal cost will depend on the circumstances, such as the size and resources of the body in question. If the State provides grants or aids for assisting in providing special treatment or facilities, there may be an onus on the service providers etc. to avail of these grants.

The ESA prohibits discrimination on the same grounds as the EEA and applies to persons buying or selling goods, using or providing services, obtaining or disposing of accommodation and those attending or in charge of educational establishments. Denial of reasonable accommodation is recognized as constituting discrimination on the basis of disability. In the provision of goods and services reasonable accommodation must not exceed nominal costs.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

B2. Recognition of legal capacity

There is a common law presumption that persons over the age of 18 have legal capacity to make decisions. On 30 December 2015 Ireland signed into law the new legislation on legal capacity, the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. The new law applies to people over 18. Under the new law a person whose mental capacity is questioned is presumed to have legal capacity unless shown to the contrary. Capacity under this law is based on a functional approach and 'assessed on the basis of his or her ability to understand at the time a decision is to be made, the nature and consequences of the decision to be made by him or her in the context of the available choices at the time.'

For people who think their mental capacity is in question or will be in question they can appoint someone as a decision-making assistant. The Decision-making assistant advises and assists the person regarding the person’s welfare, property and affairs as set out in the decision-making agreement. There is also provision for co-decision-making agreements where the person appoints a co-decision-maker. The co-decision-maker jointly takes decisions with the person on decisions regarding the person’s welfare, property or affairs as set out in the co-decision-making agreement.

The law allows for the court to make declarations on the mental capacity of a person upon application. The court can declare that the person lacks capacity to make decision relating to the person's welfare, property or affairs unless the assistance of a suitable person as a co-decision-maker is made available or that the person lacks capacity to make decisions even with the assistance of a co-decision-maker. If the court finds that the person lacks the capacity to make decisions in personal welfare, property and/or affairs the court will issue an order either making the relevant decision and/or appointing a decision-making representative who is directed under the order to make decision on behalf of the person.

Some sections of the Act, which relate to the establishment of the Decision Support Service, the appointment of a Director of the Decision Support Service and codes of practice, were commenced in October 2016. The Health Service Executive and National Disability Authority have started drafting codes of practice and a Director of the Decision Support Service started in her role on 2 October 2017. It is not yet known when the rest of the Act may be commenced.

The law does not amend or alter laws that govern capacity or consent for: making a will, civil partnership, divorce, dissolution of civil partnership, adoption, guardianship, sexual relations, or serving on a jury.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

B3. Accessibility of voting and elections

Under Irish law, the right to vote is covered under Article 16.2 of the Constitution which confers this right on all citizens over 18 years of age and other persons in the state as defined by law (e.g. British citizens can vote in Irish elections if they are residing in Ireland). The physical accessibility of polling stations is covered by the Disability Act 2005 provisions on accessibility of buildings and public services (Sections 25 to 28). The Disability Act also requires information and communications between public bodies and people with disabilities to be accessible (Section 28) which would extend to voting and campaign information.

The Electoral Act 1992 sets out that "blind, illiterate or incapacitated voters" may vote with a companion if they satisfy the presiding officer that they would be unable to vote unaided and swear an oath to this affect. This provision has been challenged in the Irish courts with the High Court in March 2017 ruling that the State has a duty to assist. In October 2016 a Statutory Instrument was enacted to allow voters who are blind or have a visual impairment vote in secret with the use of template in referenda.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

B4. Official recognition of sign language

Irish sign language was recognised as an official language of the State in December 2017 following the Irish Sign Language Act 2017. The Act allows the language to be used in the courts and introduces statutory targets on the accessibility of TV programming. It also provides for the establishment of an Irish Sign Language Council to regulate interpreters, teachers and also deaf interpreters. Under the Act public bodies would be required to create action plans on how to promote the use of Sign language within their organisations.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

B5. National disability strategy and action plan

Following the expiration of the National Disability Strategy in 2015, the Department of Justice and Equality has published the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017 – 2021. The Strategy was prepared following a consultation process in 2015/2016. The process provided interested parties with the opportunity to make recommendations in key areas such as service provision, accommodation, health, employment, transport and education. The Strategy identifies and agrees specific actions and timescales for delivery under the following eight themes: Equality and Choice; Joined up policies and public services; Education; Employment; Health and Wellbeing; Person centred disability services; Living in the Community; and Transport and Accessible Places.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

C. Accessibility

C1. Transport accessibility

Public services (including transport) are required to be accessible according to the Disability Act 2005. Under this Act, the Transport Sectoral plan was first prepared in 2006 and the most recent update to the plan was published in 2012. The Act’s requirements for accessibility extend to all public transport services (public services as defined in the Act include any services provided by companies which are funded by a Minister or the Government). Airplanes or a service provided by a person who only operates a train service or railway infrastructure of historic or touristic interest,’ however, are not covered by the act.

Despite the 2005 Disability Act and the sectoral plan there are reports that transportation, especially outside major metropolitan areas remains inaccessible to people with disabilities. For example, in 2012, only 42% of Bus Éireann’s fleet was accessible. In 2018, in response to the slow progress made in this area and some controversy over access to train services, the Minister for Transport asked for a person with lived experience of disability to be appointed to the Board of Directors of all the national transport companies.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2018-08-27

C2. Built environment accessibility

Under the Disability Act 2005, public bodies must ensure, as far as practicable, that their buildings are accessible to people with disabilities. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is responsible for ensuring accessibility of the built environment and has a sectoral plan setting out how accessibility goals will be achieved.

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is responsible for updating and enforcing the standards set out in Part M (Access for People with Disabilities) of the National Building Regulations. Part M of the Building Regulations 1997 - 2010 relates to the accessibility of the built environment for people with disabilities. The regulations do not contain a definition of accessible housing however, it is defined in the National Housing Strategy for People with Disabilities as follows – “Housing which is accessible for people with physical and/or sensory disabilities to live in. This may be a purpose built new dwelling or a dwelling that is modified to suit the needs of the user.” Originally Part M only applied to non-domestic buildings however, since January 2001 there is a requirement that new dwellings are accessible to people with disabilities. Under this requirement new dwellings must be ‘visitable’ by people with disabilities. The definition of 'visitable housing' is “Housing in which a person with a physical disability can independently enter the house, go to the main habitable rooms, and use a toilet.” The Building Regulations apply to both private and social housing.

The Employment and Equality Acts and Equal Status Acts also impose some requirements regarding building accessibility. In addition to these laws and regulations the National Disability Authority has put out guidelines on conducting a built environment access audit and using universal design.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

C3. ICT and Web accessibility

The Disability Act 2005 requires all information and communications between public bodies and people with disabilities to be accessible. The Commission for Communication Regulations or ComReg is the commission responsible for regulating the electronic communications and postal sector in Ireland. In 2010 they surveyed ICT users with disabilities in Ireland and found that there was a need to increase awareness disability specific programs and equipment.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is responsible under the Broadcasting Act 2009 to create Access Rules that promote the understanding of programming by people with visual and hearing impairments. The Access Rules, which set percentage targets for subtitling, audio descriptions and Irish sign language, were updated in August 2016 and are due for statutory review in 2017.

The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (hosted by the National Disability Authority) has published IT Accessibility Guidelines, an IT Procurement Toolkit and Web Accessibility Techniques. These guidelines are addressed to a range of actors in IT and web development sectors. The Emergency Call Answering Service falls under the remit of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The Emergency Call Answering Service can receive calls from fixed land lines, mobiles as well as a Minicom service that sends texts through a fixed telephone terminal. The Emergency Call Answering Service also allows for emergency text messages to be sent from preregistered users.

Ireland signed the Marrakesh Treaty in June 2014 but has not ratified it.

Links

Update date: Fri, 2017-07-21

D. Independent living

D1. Choice of living arrangements

There is no mandatory obligation for a person with a disability to live in a particular living arrangement. The right to live in the community, as opposed to in an institution, exists and has been affirmed in the Towards 2016- Ten-Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement 2006-2015 which states, ‘The parties to the agreement share a vision of an Ireland where people with disabilities have, to the greatest extent possible, the opportunity to live a full life with their families as part of the local community free from discrimination’. There is also the National Housing Strategy which aims to promote living in the community through targeted plans that address the specific needs of different groups of people with disabilities. In 2011 the HSE produced a Strategy on Community Inclusion which set out how best to move people with disabilities from congregated settings to the community using person centred approaches.

A person could legally be made live in an institution if they have become a Ward of Court, and where the committee formed to make decisions for them has decided this to be the best course of action for the individual in question.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

D2. De-institutionalisation

The process of deinstitutionalisation of people from long-stay hospitals and large scale congregated settings has been underway since the 1970s.
There are three main strategies that inform deinstitutionalisation policies in Ireland, A Vision for Change which focuses on people who receive mental health services, Time to Move on from Congregated Settings which pertains primarily to people with intellectual disabilities and The National Housing Strategy for People with Disabilities in Ireland 2011-2016. The National Housing Strategy is designed to promote inclusion in the community and independent living for all people with disabilities in Ireland. The National Housing Strategy looks at the specific housing needs of different groups of people with disabilities in Ireland including people with mental health needs or psycho social disabilities. Through this needs assessment the National Housing Strategy sets out 9 aims that are underpinned by a set list of actions.

Despite these strategies there are still people in Ireland who live in institutions or quasi institutions. According to the Strategy on Community Inclusion over 4,000 people with disabilities in Ireland live in congregated settings. A recent newspaper article estimated that there are at least 1500 people living in high support residential services for mental health services.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

D3. Quality of social services

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is an independent authority responsible for setting standards and monitoring residential services for children, older people and people with disabilities in Ireland under the Health Act 2007. HIQA is responsible for the Social Services Inspectorate which registers and inspects residential settings. In 2013 HIQA published the National Standards for Residential Services for Children and Adults with Disabilities. The standards apply to all public, private and voluntary residential services and residential respite services including supported community living services. In December 2014 the national broadcaster aired an expose on an evening news program about extensive abuse of older people with intellectual disabilities in a residential service. This resulted in some discussion over the effectiveness of the HIQA inspections and subsequently HIQA in 2015 have found improved standard in the service. In February 2016 HIQA published a guidance document for services and health and social care professionals on supporting people's autonomy.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-17

D4. Provision of assistive devices at home

Holders of a medical card or long term illness card may be entitled to get certain assistive devices free of charge through the health system. A housing adaptation grant for people with a disability is available on a means tested basis where changes need to be made to a home to make it suitable for a person with a physical, sensory or intellectual disability, or a mental health difficulty, to live in. The Mobility Aids Grant Scheme is also available to people with disabilities needed to make mobility related adaptations in their home. A person cannot apply for both the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme and the Housing Adaptation Grant. The Central Remedial Clinic, the National Association for Deaf People, Irish Wheelchair Association, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland and Enable Ireland are non-governmental organizations that also provide free assistive technology. Enable Ireland also provides courses on assistive technology. The IWA also operates an initiative that assists and supports people with disabilities to get social housing. The Citizen’s Information Board runs a website that provides information about assistive technology, daily living aids and mobility aids.

Links

Update date: Mon, 2016-05-02

D5. Availability of personal assistance schemes

Personal assistance (PA) services are mainly funded through the Health Service. Non-Governmental organisations such as the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) also provide personal assistance programmes through county level offices. The IWA provides two different types of assisted living services, self-directed or supported. Under the self-directed package the person with the disability is in charge of the provision of services rather than a service manager. The Centres for Independent Living in Ireland (CILs) also provide person centred PA services. There are 22 CILs throughout Ireland which are run by persons with disabilities and promote person centred service approaches. In 2014 the Disability Federation of Ireland published a report on PA services in Ireland. The report highlighted the importance of PA services to fully enable people with disabilities to live in the community and recommended recognising the PA service on a statutory basis as well as providing a dedicated funding stream.

The Department of Health has established a Task Force on Personalised Budgets to make recommendations on a personalised budgets model which will give people with disabilities more control in accessing health funded personal social services such as personal assistance. The Taskforce aims to recommend an approach and a suggested implementation strategy. It launched a public consultation in October 2017 and it is envisaged that the findings will be published by mid 2018.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

D6. Income maintenance

Payments for persons with disabilities are paid by the Department of Social Protection. Depending on a person’s situation, they may qualify either for the Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) based Illness Benefit or Invalidity Pension which require fulfilment of PRSI contribution conditions or payments and a medical assessment or means-tested benefits such as the Disability Allowance or Blind Pension. Recipients of the Disability Allowance and Blind Pension, in addition to the means-test, must also satisfy the habitual residence condition. From March 2017 on, the maximum rate for the Blind Pension and Disability Allowance was EUR 193.00 weekly. The independent agency, the Social Welfare Appeals Office, can hear appeals of social welfare decisions.

In 2017 the Department of Social Protection published the 'Make Work Pay' report which sets out the government's plans to ensure that people with disabilities are incentivised to work and will not lose out on certain benefits or services immediately if they take up employment.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

D7. Additional costs

There is no specific cost of disability payment in Ireland, instead, a number of additional cash benefits are available to off-set the additional living costs of people with disabilities. The Free travel pass entitles the holder (and sometimes a companion) to freely travel on all state transport. This pass is slowly transitioning to the Public Services Card Free Travel. Carers Allowance is a means tested benefit paid to people who provide full-time care to someone over 16 years of age who requires ‘full time care and attention’. The Domiciliary Care Allowance is available to a person caring for a child under the age of 16 who has ‘severe disability, who requires ongoing care and attention’ and they may also be entitled to a annual payment known as the Carers Support Grant. Disabled Persons Parking Cards can be used in public parking areas.
The Motorized Transport Grant, which was a means-tested Health Service Executive (HSE) payment for people in Ireland with disabilities who need to buy or adapt a car in order to earn or gain employment and the Mobility Allowance, a means tested monthly payment available to people who are unable to walk, were both closed to new applicants in 2013. The HSE are devising a scheme to replace them which will be known as the Transport Support Scheme.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-17

D8. Retirement income

People in receipt of the Disability Allowance and other disability related payments such as the Blind Pension move to a State Pension (Non-Contributory) at the age of 66. The State Pension (Non–Contributory) falls under the remit of the Department of Social Protection. Ireland also has a State Pension (Contributory) for those over the age of 66 who have enough social insurance contributions accrued. The Social Welfare’s Appeal Office hears appeals related the the State Pension schemes.

The Pensions Authority is provided for under the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 and regulates and supervises compliance with the requirements of the Pensions Act by trustees of occupational pension schemes, Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA) providers, Registered Administrators (RAs) and employers in Ireland. The Pensions Authority has appointed Access Officers in accordance with section 26(2) of the Disability Act 2005, who are responsible for ensuring that the Pensions Authority’s services are accessible to people with disabilities. A complaint can be made against the Pensions Authority if it does not comply with the provisions of Sections 25, 26, 27 and 28 of the Disability Act, 2005.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

E. Education

E1. Special schools

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN) 2004 states that: "A child with special educational needs shall be educated in an inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs unless the nature or degree of those needs of the child is such that to do so would be inconsistent with - (a) the best interests of the child as determined in accordance with any assessment carried out under this Act, or (b) the effective provision of education for children with whom the child is to be educated." Under the EPSEN Act children with disabilities are to be largely included in mainstream schools. The EPSEN Act also established the National Council for Special Education which works with schools and other actors to provide education and support services to children with special needs education. 'SchoolDays.ie' lists 541 primary schools in Ireland with special needs capabilities some of which are entirely 'special schools'. The National Council for Special Education publishes a list of mainstream primary and post-primary schools every year which have special classes.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

E2. Mainstream schools

Section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability at an ‘educational establishment’. This term is broadly defined to ensure that all educational establishments, private and public, from pre-school facilities through to third level institutions, fall within the definition of an ‘educational establishment’. Current government policy in Ireland is to encourage the maximum possible inclusion for children with special educational needs in mainstream schools as per the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004. There are several ways support may be provided to a child with a disability in a mainstream school. Learning support or resource teachers are available through a general allocation which the school then determines how to disperse. This is commonly used for high incidence needs and low support requirements. For children with hearing impairments, visual impairments, autism and general learning disabilities individual applications to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) for resource teaching hours is required. There are also Special Needs Assistants who provide non-teaching care support. Special classes catering for students from a particular category of need (for example autism) within a mainstream setting are also on the increase in recent years.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-17

E3. Sign language and Braille in school

The key focus of the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN) is the right to an appropriate education in an inclusive setting wherever possible but there is no specific obligation to provide Braille and sign language services. Special Needs Assistants, however, may be used to provide sign language support. The National Braille Production Centre provides Braille transcription services for textbooks to all children with a registered visual impairment in Ireland.

The State has a constitutional obligation to provide for free primary education, which must be appropriate for the child’s needs. However, this has been interpreted restrictively in O’Carolan v The Minister for Education, and the subsequent test is not as to whether the child is receiving ‘the best possible’ education but merely whether the current educational provision for the child is appropriate. To date, there has been no case-law regarding the right to learn Braille or sign-language in mainstream schools in Ireland.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

E4. Vocational training

Section 12 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 expressly forbids discrimination by any bodies offering vocational training. One of the high level goals of the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016 is enhanced vocational training opportunities for people with disabilities. Consultations for a updated plan for 2018-2021 are ongoing. Solas is the organisation that oversees the government’s further education and training programmes. The Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme is open to people with disabilities who have been unemployed or are on Disability Allowance or the Blind Pension for six months or more. Since 2013, the Education and Training Boards are responsible for education and training centres in their localities. Solas’s 2014 Further Education and Training Plan highlighted the fact that people with disabilities are one of the most at-risk groups for falling into long-term employment, and the regional plans included Specialist Training Programmes which are targeted at people with disabilities. The Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015 - 2024 includes ensuring that school leavers with disabilities are offered planned vocational education to suit their needs for work as part of its strategic goals. In 2016 the National Disability Authority published a report on International Good Practice in Vocational Rehabilitation: Lessons for Ireland as part of their obligations under the strategy.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

E5. Higher education

A number of access programmes provide assistance to people with disabilities in accessing higher education. One example is the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) programme. DARE initiatives include: a third level admission scheme for students with disabilities under the age of 23; places allocated on a reduced points scheme to school leavers whose disability has affected their education performance significantly; a website with information on those units involved in DARE; and assistance in applying through the Central Admissions Office. The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD) is a non-profit organisation that promotes full access and participation of students with disabilities in higher education. In the 2015/2016 academic year there were 11,244 students with disabilities in higher education in Ireland which equates to 5.1% of the total student population. The National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019 sets a target of 8% for students with disabilities as a percentage of all new entrants to higher education. In 2017 the Higher Education Authority (HEA) published a review of their Fund for Students with Disabilities which indicated that the number of students supported by the fund each year had increased from 3,500 to over 10,000 since 2008.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

F. Employment

F1. Non-discrimination in employment

The primary pieces of Irish legislation concerned with disability and employment are the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015, the Equal Status Acts 2000-2012, and the Disability Act 2005. The Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 prohibits discrimination on nine grounds, including disability, and covers employees in both the public and private sectors including people employed through employment agencies and applicants for employment and training. The Acts require the provision of reasonable accommodation. However, the provision of reasonable accommodation must not amount to more than a nominal cost on the service provider. The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016, which is currently going through the Dáil, seeks to address the issue of nominal cost by requiring public bodies to provide reasonable accommodation unless it amounts to a ‘disproportionate burden’ on the service provider. Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 covers the obligations on public service bodies to have 3% of people with disabilities amongst their employees. There is a government commitment to gradually increase this from 3% to 6%, and The Pathways to Work Strategy 2016-2020 indicates that the public service employment target for people with disabilities for 2016 was 4%. The government has also published a Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities 2015-2024 which aims for a coordinated approach across government departments to support people with disabilities with employment including policies to positively discriminate towards people with a disability in the public sector and to tackle perceptions of disability by employers.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

F2. Public employment services

The Department of Social Protection runs Intreo which provides employment services and supports for jobseekers. There have been critiques of Intreo, however, by DPOs because of the way the system prioritises those on the live register which would often not include people with disabilities who are unemployed. The Department of Social Protection also provides the EmployAbility service which provides employment and recruitment services to people with disabilities and operates a reasonable accommodation fund which includes a Job Interview Interpreter Grant, Personal Reader Grant and Workplace Equipment Adaption Grant to support people with disabilities to gain and retain employment.

Links

Update date: Fri, 2017-07-21

F3. Workplace adaptations

The Workplace Equipment Adaptation grant (WEAG) is available to people with disabilities who have been offered or are already in employment in the private sector. The grant can be used for equipment, or building and safety adaptations. The maximum grant available is EUR 6,350. Public Sector employers must adapt their workplace at their own cost. Under Section 49 of the Disability Act, public sector employers may be required to make adaptations or provide accessible supports in order to better facilitate the employment of people with disabilities.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

F4. Financial incentives

The Department of Social Protection provides the Wage Subsidy Scheme which is available to private sector employers who employ people with disabilities more than 20 hours per week. The Employee Retention Grant Scheme aims to support employers in the retention of employees who acquire an illness, condition or impairment which impacts on their ability to carry out their job. The Disability Awareness Training Support Scheme is available to all companies in the private sector and aims to promote the employment of people with disabilities by raising awareness and understanding amongst staff.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

G. Statistics and data collection

G1. Official research

The National Disability Authority (NDA) is the independent state body that provides expert advice on disability policies to the government. The NDA assists the Department for Justice and Equality with disability policy. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is the national statutory body with responsibility for the collection, compilation, extraction and dissemination for statistical purposes of information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions in the State. There are two national service-planning databases in Ireland for persons with disabilities, and these are managed by the Health Research Board, the National Intellectual Disability Database and the National Physical and Sensory Disability Database.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

G2. Census data

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is the national statutory body with responsibility for the collection, compilation, extraction and dissemination for statistical purposes of information relating to economic, social and general activities and conditions in the State. CSO surveys with particular relevance in providing statistics on people with disabilities include; the Census of Population; the National Disability Survey; the Quarterly National Household Survey; and the annual Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC). People with disabilities are identified in both the National Census and the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), and in both cases disability status is self-identified. The most recent National Disability Survey was completed in 2006 following the census in that year and has not been repeated following the census in 2011 or 2016. In the 2016 Census people with disabilities equated to 13.5% of the population.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

G3. Labour Force Survey

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is a large-scale, nationwide survey of households in Ireland. It is designed to produce quarterly labour force estimates that include the official measure of employment and unemployment in the state (ILO basis). The QNHS also conducts special modules on different social topics each quarter. In the QNHS (as in the National Census) disability is measured through self-identification. The most recent QNHS does not give data for persons with disabilities therefore the most recent data on disability and labour force participation is from the National Census in 2016 which showed that there were 176,445 persons with a disability in the labour force, giving a labour force participation rate of 30.2% compared with 61.4% for the population overall.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

G4. Disability equality indicators

The National Disability Authority (NDA), the independent statutory body charged with providing expert advice on disability policy, developed a suggested set of indicators designed to measure progress on the five high-level goals of the National Disability Strategy in terms of outcomes for individuals. Among the indicators identified was the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS). The QNHS most recent module on Equality is from Q3 2014 and details that 16% of people with a disability compared with 11% of those without a disability said that they felt discriminated against in the two years prior to the survey. The most recent National Disability Survey was completed in 2006 following the census in that year and has not been repeated following the census in 2011 or 2016.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2017-05-17

H. Awareness and external action

H1. Awareness raising programs

The Department of Social Protection provides grants to employers to conduct disability awareness trainings. NCBI, DeafHear and the IWA all provide disability awareness training services. In recent years there has been an increased focus on awareness of mental health in Ireland through the efforts of organizations like Jigsaw, Mental Health Ireland, and See Change. The Training and Employment Agency offers disability awareness training for employers in order to assist with the employment and retention of people with disabilities in the workplace. A grant is available to employers of up to 90% of the cost in the first year and 80% in subsequent years up to a maximum of €20,000 per year.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

H2. Training for teachers

All teacher education programmes in Ireland must have professional accreditation for graduates to be eligible for registration with the Teaching Council. The Teaching Council published the new criteria which must be met by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) providing programmes of teacher education in Ireland in 2011. The criteria list Inclusive Education (Special Education, Multiculturalism, Disadvantage, etc.) as mandatory elements of a teacher training programme. The Department of Education and Skills' Statement of Strategy 2015-2017 includes supporting inclusion and diversity as one of its goals. The Special Education Support Service (SESS) works to provide professional development opportunities and supports to teachers in mainstream schools who have children with special education needs.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

H3. Training for lawyers

There is no formal requirement for disability awareness or equality issues to form part of initial training programmes for lawyers in Ireland. The Law Society of Ireland provides Professional Training courses and Continuous Professional Development modules (of which a certain number are mandatory). The Diploma programme has in the past included the option for a Certificate in Capacity, Mental Health and the law. However, attendance at disability or equality-based modules is not a mandatory requirement for the CPD Programme.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

H4. Training for doctors

In their submission to the Working Group on Undergraduate Medical Education and Training Disability, the National Disability Authority (NDA) advised the provision of disability awareness training for: medical students throughout their undergraduate training and education; academic staff; and practitioners supervising medical students on placement. The NDA also advised the development of a system of disability / equality proofing in undergraduate medical education and training, including recruitment and retention of people with disabilities and people covered by the other grounds under equality legislation. In 2007 the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies developed the evidence-based National Best Practice Guidelines for Informing Families of their Child’s Disability. Over the course of 2017, the Informing Families Project is being supported by the HSE in rolling out an implementation strategy for the National Best Practice Guidelines for Informing Families of their Child’s Disability including an e-module in this area for professionals.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

H5. Training for engineers

There is no mandatory disability awareness/equality issues component as part of initial engineer training in Ireland. Continuous Professional Development courses are offered by Engineers Ireland and include topics such as 'How to Make Buildings Accessible' and Access Auditor training to certify buildings under the Disability Access Certificate. Legislative reform in this area comes in the form of the Disability Act 2005. Part 6 of the Act establishes the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. Part of the mandate of this facility is to ensure that, as far as it is practicable, courses of education and training in the principles of universal design are provided for persons engaged in such work, including architects, engineers, town planners, systems analysts, software designers, transport providers and designers of passenger transport vehicles and passenger vessels, and to ensure the development of appropriate curricula so that the concept of universal design forms an integral part of the relevant courses.

Links

Update date: Tue, 2018-08-28

H6. International development aid

Irish Aid is Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs international development agency. The primary focus of the Irish Aid programme is poverty reduction and sustainable development amongst the world’s poorest populations. In 2013 Irish Aid launched One World, One Future which outlines Ireland’s international development policy. The new policy states that they will devote more resources to disability and better integrate disability into their development interventions. In 2014 CBM Ireland sent a submission to the Review of Ireland’s Foreign Policy and External Relations which called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to become a member of the National Disability Stakeholders’ Group and to ensure that commitments made to promoting human rights for people with disabilities are carried out.

Links

Update date: Wed, 2015-03-25

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