Written Answers - Equality Legislation.

Tuesday, 30 September 1997

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 480 No. 6

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  409.  Mrs. T. Ahearn  Information on Theresa Ahearn  Zoom on Theresa Ahearn   asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if he will introduce legislation to promote equality for people with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14887/97]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The introduction of legislation to promote equality of people with disabilities is primarily a matter for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who I understand has a number of legislative proposals in this area.

My Department's mission is to promote social wellbeing through income and other supports which enable people to participate in society in a positive way. The various income support and other schemes administered by the Department are designed to ensure that individuals, families and communities have the opportunity and incentive to participate fully in the social and economic life of the country. Accordingly, the existing social welfare legislation, which underpins the social welfare income support system, already promotes equality by providing the financial means whereby people with disabilities and other social welfare recipients can participate more fully in society.

This year's Social Welfare Act, for instance, contained a comprehensive package of measures to further assist people with disabilities, including special increases in social welfare rates over and above the rate of inflation, which bring invalidity pension up to the target rate recommended by the Commission on Social Welfare; and disability allowance, blind person's pension and disability benefit up from 95 per cent to 98 per cent of the CSW rate; a new part-payment of disability allowance for those in part-time residential care; and an additional payment of 50 per cent to recipients of carer's allowance providing care to more than one person.

In addition, 1,000 places have been reserved under the back-to-work allowance scheme for a pilot scheme for people with disabilities, to facilitate their integration into mainstream employment.

Further improvements in the income supports available to people with disabilities are being examined in a budgetary context, having regard [1163] to the commitments contained in the Government's programme, An Action Programme for the Millennium, and the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities.

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