90. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 will be amended to allow for a greater number of persons with disabilities to work in the public service; if the public service employment target of 6% of persons with disabilities takes into account the existing rates of disabilities associated with an ageing workforce; if graduates with disabilities that have yet to enter the workforce will also be targeted in this measure in view of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10453/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): Under Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005, public bodies are expected to achieve a statutory target of 3% for the number of staff employed with disabilities.
Implementation of Part 5 of the Act is monitored on an ongoing basis by the National Disability Authority. The Authority reports each year on progress made towards the statutory target for employment in the public sector.
The Authority's most recently published report shows that at the end of 2015, 3.6% of staff employed in public sector bodies were people with disabilities. This is an increase from 3.5% in 2014 and is the fourth successive year of exceeding the 3% target.
The provisions under Part 5 of the Act are strengthened in the context of the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities.
The Strategy sets out a ten-year approach to ensuring that people with disabilities who are able to, and want to, work are supported and enabled to do so. It is a cross-government approach that brings together actions by different Departments and State agencies in a concerted effort to address the barriers and challenges that impact on employment of people with disabilities.
One of the key priorities in the Strategy is to increase the statutory target from 3% to 6% on a phased basis by January 2024. This target was further underpinned in the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 which I launched last year. I can inform the Deputy that Department of Justice and Equality officials are preparing legislation to amend the 2005 Act to provide for this increased statutory target. Issues such as the categories of person to be included in the target have yet to be examined in that context. It is my intention that these provisions will be included in the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 during its passage through the Oireachtas.