Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that Irish society must start speaking to the person rather than to that person’s disability.

Deputy O’Mahony was speaking during a briefing she organised for all members of Dáil and Seanad Éireann on the barriers that people with disabilities face in gaining meaningful employment.

“I’ve brought together representatives of the Irish Wheelchair Association, the Irish Deaf Society and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland so that members of the Oireachtas can hear directly how they can influence public policy.”

“In too many instances, but especially in employment, we see the disability first and the person second. When that happens, business and society more often than not loses out.”

“A significant change is required in the Irish economy in terms of understanding disability, and how meaningful employment can play a transformative role in the life of a person with a disability.”

“As the party spokesperson on this issue, I am committed to working with business groups, unions, employers and representative associations to address the challenges and the barriers that stop people with disabilities gaining employment.”

“The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation should play a greater role in formulating employment policy for people with disabilities.

“The Department’s remit should be wider – it should consider developing a number of specific supports or grants which, while recognising that people with disability may need additional support, will also encourage entrepreneurship and self-employment for people with a disability.”

“History shows us that when the workforce is opened up to more people, the economy grows and society prospers. It happened in the 1970s when the marriage ban was lifted in the civil service, and it will happen again when the full potential of people with disabilities is realised,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.