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Government to scrap Green Paper on disability reform

Disability rights activists have welcomed a decision by the Government to scrap a proposal to reform disability payments.

A Department of Social Protection Green Paper had suggested reforming the structure of long-term disability payments by establishing a three-tiered system.

Among the proposals that caused significant concern was the suggestion that a person’s capacity to work would be medically assessed by people employed by the department.

Protests were held in recent months by disabled activists who were supported by elected representatives, at which they voiced their anger calling for the Green Paper to be scrapped.

The Department of Social Protection has confirmed that as a result of the feedback received during the consultation, the minister has decided not to proceed further with the process.

In a statement it said responses to the paper would be used to inform “the broader review of disability supports and services initiated by the Taoiseach under the auspices of the new Cabinet committee on disability matters”.

Heather Humphreys said she had listened to the ‘significant concerns’ over the paper (file photo)

Confirming that the proposals would not be implemented, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said she had listened to the significant concerns.

“Our new Taoiseach, Simon Harris has placed a major focus on improving supports for people with disabilities by giving a voice to special education at the Cabinet table in Minister [Hildegarde] Naughton and also with the establishement of a special Cabinet Committee on Disability,” she said.

Ms Humphreys added that as a Government, a fresh look was needed to “best support people with disabilities and I believe this will be best done on a whole-of-Government basis through the new Cabinet Committee”.

Independent Senator Tom Clonan, who attended the protests and initiated a debate against the Green Paper in the Seanad before Christmas, welcomed the decision which he said was “the right one”.

He expressed relief that the “absolutely reprehensible proposal” had been scrapped.

“Now we need to make the disability allowance a non means tested universal payment for disabled citizens’ in this country”, he said.

Mr Clonan said he looked forward to working with Taoiseach Simon Harris.

Access for all Ireland also welcomed the decision and called on the Government to work with disabled activists and to hear their voices.

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