Speaking material for the Minister of State, Mr Tim O´Malley, T.D. for the celebration of the golden jubilee of St John of God Kildare Services

Thank you for inviting me here today to celebrate The Golden Jubilee of St John of God Kildare Services.

Since its foundation in 1952, St John of God Kildare Services has developed into an organisation which now provides a network of day, training, employment and residential services, in addition to respite services for over 320 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

One of the most positive features of the disability services here in Ireland is the very strong partnership which now exists between all those involved in the planning and delivery of services. This partnership includes the Government, health boards, voluntary agencies, families and friends of the services and of course persons with disabilities themselves.

The range of choices available to persons with an intellectual disability has greatly increased in recent years. The services here in Kildare include a very good example of one of the more innovative development in the facilities at Celbridge Abbey. This, together with other locally based facilities, clearly demonstrate the emphasis which is now on the provision of community based services, thus enableing individuals to live within their family circle and local community wherever possible.

The enhancement of the level of support available to people with disabilities and their families continues to be one of the priorities of this Government.

I am very pleased that both this Government and the previous Government have been in a position to make a significant investment in these services in recent years. By the end of this year, we will have provided additional revenue and capital funding amounting to nearly €312m for services to persons with an intellectual disability and those with autism.

However I accept that while much has been achieved in recent years, there is still a need for ongoing investment in these services.

Community consciousness, in relation to the needs of people with disabilities, has also been increasing over the years. This is the result of the dedication and commitment of the many groups who provide services to such people, the parents and friends who actively support those services, and of course, people with a disability themselves.

The professional and dedicated care shown by the staff here, together with the commitment shown by the Hospitaller Order of St John of God, has resulted in models of services, which I believe, can compare with best international practice. I hope that all involved with these services will continue to work to meet the needs of those who require their support in the years to come.

Finally, may I congratulate all those involved in the St. John of God Kildare Services on reaching their golden jubilee. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of all those who worked in the early years to establish the foundations on which todays services have been built. I would also like to thank all of you here today for your contribution and to wish you all a very successful and enjoyable day.

Thank you.