Written Answers. - European Year of People with Disabilities.

Wednesday, 6 November 2002

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 556 No. 4

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  215.  Mr. Kenny  Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny   asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell   his plans to mark the forthcoming European Year of People with Disabilities; the special initiatives which are to be undertaken during 2002; the projects and campaigns planned by the National Disability Authority; the additional funding available for such projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20868/02]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  The year 2003 was designated European Year of People with Disabilities under an EU Council decision (2001/903/EC) on 3 December 2001. The purpose of the year is to promote awareness of disability issues among the general public and to raise awareness of the rights [1182]of people with disabilities to equal opportunities and protection against discrimination.

In March the NDA was designated as the national co-ordinating body for the year. It has since established a national co-ordinating committee comprising representatives of the key stakeholders, including my Department. The committee is chaired by Ms Angela Kerins, chairperson of the NDA and meets monthly. Sub-committees will be established on agreed themes which include awareness raising; youth and disability; rights, responsibilities and partnership and employment.

The NDA will administer funding for activities in the year, including EU funding of approximately €255,000 and matching funding. The launch plan for the year is at an advanced stage and preparations are in train to develop a programme of events throughout the year. In advance of the national co-ordinating committee finalising the programme for the year and finalisation of the Estimates for 2003 in this area, it is not possible to indicate the total funding available at this stage.

Key Departments, local authorities and vocational education committees have all been appraised of the objectives of the year and are invited to share their ideas with the national co-ordinating committee to maximise its impact. A number of initiatives are already under development. The Equality Authority has indicated it will place particular emphasis on employment and reasonable accommodation. A campaign bus will tour participating countries over the course of 2003 following an itinerary managed by the European Disability Federation. People with Disabilities in Ireland Limited will co-ordinate the tour in Ireland to coincide with planned events.

My Department will also undertake a number of initiatives designed to highlight the aims of the year. This includes an exhibition entitled Design for All aimed at planners, designers and developers, as well as the general public, particularly those with disabilities with a view to promoting a more inclusive built environment. This exhibition was recently opened in the offices of the Office of Public Works on St. Stephen's Green and will tour the country over the next 14 months.

PWDI is an independent body representing people with disabilities. My Department is also providing financial support to enable it to host a series of regional seminars and this month the theme is Youth – Beyond Disability. The seminars are designed to facilitate consultation with young persons with disabilities so that their aspirations and views can be captured.

Everyone has a role to play in making Ireland's participation in the year memorable. My Department is currently embarking on an advertising campaign to promote it to the public.

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