Press Release

Minister Devins Welcomes Today’s Launch of the NDA Report on Compliance with Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005

Report of the National Disability Authority (NDA) on compliance with Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 on employment of People with Disabilities in the Public Service in 2006

The National Disability Authority (NDA) today, 4 January, 2008 published the first annual report on compliance with Part 5 of the Disability Act, 2005 on employment of people with disabilities in the public service. The Disability Act 2005 provides for a framework for monitoring the employment target for people with disabilities, currently set at 3%, in public bodies through monitoring committees in each Government Department. The NDA has an overall monitoring and reporting role under the Act.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Disability and Mental Health, Dr. Jimmy Devins, T.D., said “I welcome today’s report on the employment of people with disabilities in the public service in 2006. The public service is committed to ensuring that a positive culture exists for people with disabilities which enables them to have fulfilling careers and gives them the opportunity to use their talents in serving the public. I am impressed by the wide ranging examples of good practice which demonstrate how public sector organisations have built up a significant track record in promoting employment of people with disabilities, aiding job retention and fostering a positive work environment where differences are respected”.

The Minister indicated that the report is not just about employment data, it also highlights the many positive action measures implemented to promote and support the employment of people with disabilities in the public service. The recently published Code of Practice for the Employment of People with a Disability in the Civil Service focuses on a set of principles, actions and responsibilities to be applied to each stage of career development for employees with disabilities across the Irish Civil Service. A new approach to the recruitment of people with a disability into the Civil Service is being adopted with the aim of ensuring compliance with the Act. An example of this is the recruitment competition in 2007 for Executive Officer in the Civil Service, which was confined to people with disabilities. Also, the Civil Service is a partner in the EQUAL funded Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) project which aims to give up to 6 months quality work experience to graduates with disabilities. Each Department/Office supported the project and during 2006 and 2007, 28 graduates with disabilities were successful in obtaining a paid placement within the Civil Service.

The Minister noted that the collation of data on a new statutory basis from several hundred organisations posed challenges. He fully accepted the NDA assessment that the findings must be treated with caution. “Some assumptions have been made, unavoidably, due to lower than expected response rates to the survey which was used to collect the data. However I am encouraged by the fact that all Government Departments have exceeded the target when the outcome is confined to survey respondents alone – out of 45% of staff of Departments who responded to the survey, 5.3% indicated that they had a disability. ” Including those bodies that met the target based on survey responses alone, it would appear that about half of all public service organisations reached the target, with a reasonable proportion falling not far short. The Minister noted that meeting the target was especially challenging for the very many small organisations, about one quarter of which had less than 50 employees.

The NDA has reported that it has been a challenging task to develop accurate and appropriate ways of capturing the data and advises that the report data is treated with caution as some data may not fully represent the position in Government Departments and public bodies. The Minister indicated that it welcomed the NDA’s review of the methodology used in and the experience of the first year’s reporting process. “I anticipate that this will iron out the problems encountered in gathering reliable data”.

The Minister of State added, “I would like to thank the NDA for this first report and for the considerable work involved in collating data for the whole of the public service. I also wish to acknowledge the vital contribution of the monitoring committees to this process. This first year of statutory reporting has undoubtedly been a challenging one, however, much has been learnt in the process which will inform the enhancement of data collection methods for future reports. This report is one which the public service as a whole can build on with the aim of making a real and tangible difference to the quality of life of people with disabilities by continuing to promote and support their employment. Today marks another significant milestone in the ongoing implementation of the Government’s National Disability Strategy and highlights the participation of people with disabilities in the workplace and in society”

Background

Delegation of Ministerial Functions Order. The Minister of State for Mental Health and Disability, Dr. Jimmy Devins, T.D., was delegated the powers and duties of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform conferred on him by or under the Disability Act 2005 and the National Disability Authority Act 1999 by order (i.e. S. I. No. 556 of 2007).

Section 50 of the Disability Act 2005. The NDA submitted to the Minister of State on 30 November, 2007 the first statutory report on the compliance by the Public Service with the employment target of people with disabilities in accordance with Section 50 of the Act.

Definition of Disability under the Disability Act 2005. The Act defines disability as: Disability, in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation, in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.