As Minister for Disability, I am delighted to be able to bring forward a package of budget measures that will advance the rights of people with disabilities and bring us closer to fully realising the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in this country. I am determined to further the momentum that has built up here in Ireland.
In addition to the €105 million expansion of the €2.2 billion budget for disability services I secured in the Department of Health, I am pleased to say that a budgetary package of €1.8 million has also been secured in DCEDIY.
This will see over €500,000 allocated to support us in further integrating people with disabilities into the policy-making process and that will allow us to build capacity and raise awareness in relation to CRPD across the state and wider society.
The Convention obliges us to ensure that persons with disability fully participate in policy-making and the funding secured in Budget 2022 will allow us to build on the networks and channels we have.
This will include continued funding for the Disability Participation and Consultation Network, with the aim of continuing to support that Network so we can better integrate expertise and lived experience into policy-making, and to build on the work to date to eventually provide government departments and state bodies with a dedicated consultative body on disability matters.
The CRPD package will assist in costs relating to the development of Ireland’s CRPD Implementation Plan, which the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is currently preparing.
I am also happy to announce that I have secured €1 million funding for practical supports to help people with disabilities in accessing and retaining employment and in making work pay.
There is more and more evidence showing that Ireland is not where we want to be in this area, and the benefits of employment are clear to all of us.
Budget 2022 will support us in progressing activities such as continued funding for existing employer supports, new initiatives for actions under the Comprehensive Employment Strategy, and employment focused initiatives that had been postponed during the pandemic. This funding has been secured with the assistance of the European Social Fund.
I am also happy to say I have secured €100,000 for the Autism Innovation Strategy, which I announced the development of earlier this year. This funding will support its design and implementation.
The Strategy will focus on identifying and breaking down the barriers faced by people with autism. I hope to progress the Strategy over the coming weeks and months.
Ireland is at a critical juncture in terms of disability rights and the measures brought forward under Budget 2022 will allow us to build on our progress to date and drive further progress.