The stark findings of a new ESRI report on the employment prospects of people with disabilities are shocking but not surprising, according to Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns.
Deputy Cairns, who sits on the Oireachtas Committee on Disability Matters, said:
“The stark findings of this report reveal the scale of the barriers that are faced by people with disabilities in this country. Ireland has the fourth-lowest rate of employment among people with disabilities across the EU. This has serious consequences as people with disabilities are twice as likely to experience poverty and deprivation than the rest of the population.
“The findings of the report are shocking, but sadly not surprising. Representative groups and advocates for people with disabilities have highlighted these endemic structural barriers for years. People who speak at the Committee on Disability Matters regularly share their lived experience of the obstacles they face – obstacles created by the State and society.
“Many of the problems documented in this report, experienced by people with disabilities, are not an inevitability. They are directly related to the ways in which our society, and public services, are designed and operate. This is evident from the report. For instance, unlike other EU countries, the severity of disability is not strongly associated with working status in Ireland. This suggests that it is external barriers, rather than people’s particular disability, that limits employment prospects.
“Another deeply concerning finding is that a lack of support prevents many people with disabilities from moving from secondary school to third level education. This failure to make education, at every level, accessible is utterly unacceptable.
“Routine lack of access to reliable public transport in rural areas – as well as regular impediments to accessing existing public transport like the Dart – is a further indictment of the manner in which people with disabilities are treated.
“The government must now do more than issue a mealy-mouthed statement. It must outline how it will remove barriers, faced by people with disabilities, which severely limit their ability to participate in society.”