National Council on Disability Document Archive

"A Strategy for Equality"

Posted by: Jamal Mazrui
Date Mailed: Thursday, July 17th 1997 04:12 PM

Thanks to Gerry Ellis (, I obtained a complete 
electronic copy of a major report on disability policy in Ireland.  Below 
is the table of contents and foreword.  I've made the complete, 
roughly 700K document available at the address

Here is an opportunity to learn from Irish experience and thinking on public 
policy affecting people with disabilities!


                      A Strategy for Equality
Report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities
                           October 1996

Part One: Introduction
Chapter 1: Overview
The Commission's Recommendations                                   

Part Two: Policy and Structural Changes                          
Chapter 2: Legal Status of People with Disabilities              
Chapter 3: Policy Development and Implementation                 
Chapter 4: Delivering  the Necessary Services                      
Chapter 5: Costs: Budgeting for Equality                         

Part Three: Economic Rights                                        
Chapter 6: Income and Disability                                   
Chapter 7: Work and Training                                     
Chapter 8: Insurance                                             

Part Four: Social and Civil Rights                               
Chapter 9:    Access                                             
Chapter 10: Health                                               
Chapter 11: Education                                            
Chapter 12: Housing and Accommodation                            
Chapter 13: Transport and Mobility                               
Chapter 14: Technology and Communications                        
Chapter 15: The Law and The Legal System                         
Chapter 16: Political Rights                                     
Chapter 17: The Inclusion of Women with Disabilities             
Chapter 18: Sexuality and Relationships                          
Chapter 19: Religion                                             
Chapter 20: Arts and Culture                                     
Chapter 21: Media                                                
Chapter 22: Sports, Leisure and Recreation                       

Part Five: Vulnerable People with Disabilities                   
Chapter 23:  Vulnerable People                                   

Part Six: Research                                               
Chapter 24:  Research                                            

Appendix A:Statistics
Appendix B:        Equality, Status and Disability - A Paper 
  prepared for the Commission by the Equality
  Studies Centre, University College, Dublin
Appendix C:Outline Principles of a Disabilities Act
Appendix D:Definitions of Key Positions
Appendix E:Membership of Working Groups


"We, as people with disabilities, are shouldering our
responsibility to ensure that disabled people are "included" as
full citizens in Ireland. It is now time that everyone else joins
this process, so that we can all live and participate together as
equal members of society".
-   excerpt from a submission    

It is with great pleasure that I present the Report of the
Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities to
Government and so honour the pledge we gave to the many people
with disabilities, their families and carers we met at our
"Listening Meetings" held throughout the country and to those who
made written submissions to us.

From the outset, the Commission made consultation and
participation our highest priority.  I hope that this approach
will become part and parcel of the way in which policy will be
formed in the future.

This Report is an equality strategy which will, if implemented,
set about removing the barriers which stand in the way of people
with disabilities who want to live full and fulfilled lives. It
will also benefit greatly the parents and carers of people with
disabilities. The Commission's strategy involves legislative
solutions, proposals for new policy initiatives and new
structures for delivery of equality services within a framework
of rights, not charity. The Commission has developed a model of
service which places the user of those services at the centre of
the process of service delivery, from the planning stage right
through to implementation.

While the Commission recommends that a reasonable time frame be
set for the implementation of our recommendations, there are,
however, a number of recommendations which require immediate
attention. These are as follows:-

Recommendations 23.20 - 23.23 in relation to a special programme
to replace sub-standard facilities for people with disabilities,
with St. Ita's Hospital, Portrane receiving priority attention.

Recommendation 1.24 in relation to the provision of funding to
the new Council for the Status of People with Disabilities.

Recommendation 2.5 in relation to the revision of the EU

Recommendation 7.31 in relation to the acute shortage of
sheltered workplaces and
Recommendations 3.6 and 3.7 in relation to the retention and
resourcing of the Department of Equality and Law Reform.

I firmly believe that if these recommendations are implemented
immediately, then a good start will have been made to tackling
the gross in-equalities experienced on a daily basis by people
with disabilities, their families and carers.

I would like to thank the members of the Commission for their
dedication and commitment to our work and, in particular, to
compliment our Secretary, Mr. Pat Wylie and the other members of
the Secretariat without whose resourcefulness and forbearance
this Report would not have been possible.

The Hon. Mr. Justice Feargus M. Flood
Chairperson to the Commission

The Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities was
established on the 29th November, 1993 by the Minister of
Equality of Law Reform, Mervyn Taylor, TD., with the following
terms of reference:

1.   To advise the Government on practical measures necessary to
ensure that people with a disability can exercise their rights to
participate, to the fullest extent of their potential, in
economic, social and cultural life.

2.   To examine the current situation of people with a disability
and the organisation and adequacy of existing services, both
public and voluntary, to meet their needs.

3.   To make recommendations setting out necessary changes, in
legislation, policies, organisation, practices and structures to
ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are met in a
cohesive, comprehensive and cost effective way. 

4.   To establish the estimated costs of all recommendations
made, and

5.   To report to the Government within a period of two years
from the date of its establishment.

The Commission received some 600 written submissions, a majority
of them (327) from individuals with disabilities. A further 111
submissions came from parents and others close to people with
disabilities while 162 submissions were received from
organisations. In addition, the Commission held 30 "listening
meetings" at ten centres around the country as well as at a
number of locations in and around Dublin. Members of the
Commission heard at first hand at these meetings of the
frustrations and problems facing people with disabilities.
Between the submissions and the listening meetings, the
Commission drew up a comprehensive picture of the lifestyles of
people with disabilities.

The Commission appointed a number of Working Groups and
individuals to examine and develop proposals on various issues.
Their reports, a number of which the Commission is making
available publicly, provided an extremely valuable input into the
Commission's deliberations. These reports represent the views of
the Working Groups which produced them, and do not necessarily
reflect the views of the Commission. The membership of the
individual Working Groups is contained in Appendix E.

Public life does not stand still while a Commission deliberates.
During the lifetime of the Commission, several important issues
arose which were of great significance to people with
disabilities, and these were taken up by the Commission.

A comprehensive submission was made, under the chairmanship of
Commission member Dr. Gerard Quinn, to the Constitution Review
Group, recommending specific amendments to the Constitution to
ensure equal rights to people with disabilities in all aspects of
Irish life.
Submissions were made to the Minister for Equality and Law
Reform, Mervyn Taylor, T.D. concerning the content of proposed
Equality Bill and the Equal Status legislation. As well as making
general proposals as to the manner of securing equal rights for
people with disabilities, the Legislation Working Group made a
technical submission regarding the important matter of the
definitions of disability which would be appropriate to this

The Report of the Special Education Review Committee, published
by Minister for Education was followed by the White Paper
"Charting our Education Future". The Commission's Education
Working Group made a comprehensive submission to the Department
of Education, focusing on the need for new education legislation
which would ensure equality of opportunity, access and
participation for disabled students, by creating entitlements to
services and by providing for reasonable accommodation for all
disabled students in mainstream schools. Members of this Working
Group had the opportunity to meet with senior officials of the
Department of Education on this issue.

A delegation from the Commission met with the Irish Minister for
European Affairs to stress the importantance of including a
non-discrimination clause in the E.U. Treaty.

A comprehensive submission was made to the Working Group on a
Courts Commission, highlighting the problems which people with
disabilities face in securing access to one of the most
fundamental rights in a democratic state, the right of access to
the Courts and the legal system; proposals were made to the
Working Group on Taxicab provision, dealing with this most
important aspect of transport provision for people with
disabilities; consultations took place with the Insurance
Federation of Ireland, in respect of inequalities in the right of
access to insurance provision; discussions took place with Aer
Rianta and Aer Lingus regarding access to air travel.

The Secretariat of the Commission was provided by the Department
of Equality and Law Reform and comprised of:

Mr. Pat Wylie - Secretary
Mr. Breandan _ Cathasaigh
Ms. Anne Colgan and
Ms. Ann Casey

The Commission would also like to acknowledge, with thanks, the
support and assistance they received from the following:

Ms. Lucinda MacMahon
Ms. May McCarthy
Ms. Irene O'Keeffe
Ms. Eileen Bowden
Ms. Betty Ann Carroll and
Ms. Collette Deely

One of the most important aspects of the Commission itself was
the fact that 60 per cent of its members were people with
disabilities, their carers or family members. Its members were:

Mr Justice Feargus Flood, Chairperson        Sr. Angela Magee    
Mark Blake-Knox                    Frank Mulcahy            
Jacqui BrowneSeamus _ Cinniide
Anne Coogan                        Allen O'Connor
John A. Cooney                Kathleen O'Flaherty
Paddy Doyle                        Margaret O'Leary
Frieda Finlay                      Arthur O'Reilly     
Michael Gogarty                    Colman Patton       
David Leydon                       Gerard Quinn
Paul McCarthy                      Annie Ryan
Conn Mac Cinngamhna           Fidelma Ryan             * Anne
McManus                  ** Frances Spillane

* replaced by John Bohan who in turn was replaced by Paula Lyons 
          ** replaced by John Collins

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