31st December, 2015
Minister of State for New Communities, Culture, Equality and Drugs Strategy, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin T.D., today welcomed the coming into force of section 25 of the Disability Act 2005. The section became law on 31 December 2005 and provides that all public buildings that were public buildings at that time must be brought into compliance with Part M of the 1997 Building Regulations by 31 December 2015.
The section also provides that such public buildings shall be brought into compliance with any subsequent amendment to Part M not later than 10 years after the amendment comes into effect. Part M contains a set of minimum requirements to make public buildings accessible to people with disabilities.
“This is an important milestone for people with disabilities” said the Minister. “Access to public buildings is an important human right of every person in our society.”
The Department of Justice and Equality, with assistance from the National Disability Authority, has recently completed Phase 2 of a comprehensive consultation process which is taking place with a view to putting in place a new National Disability Inclusion Strategy. The consultation process allows interested parties to make recommendations in key areas such as service provision, accommodation, health, employment, and education.
Phase 1 of the consultation process to develop a new Disability Inclusion Strategy in Ireland was launched in June 2015 and Phase 2 in November. The consultations are taking the form of a 3-stage process as follows:
1. An initial round of consultations, to facilitate identification of the priority themes to be addressed in a National Disability Inclusion Strategy.
2. A second phase (which has now completed) to identify and agree specific objectives under each of the themes identified in Phase 1.
3. Phase 3 - to commence early in the New Year - which will focus on identifying precise and measurable actions and timescales for achievement of each of the objectives that emerged from Phase 2. Following this phase, a draft proposal for a new Disability Inclusion Strategy will be prepared by the National Disability Strategy Steering Group for consideration by Government.
The feedback from Phase 2 is now being analysed by the National Disability Authority.
“As I said when we started this process, we have an opportunity for the first time in many years now to address the issues of concern to people with disabilities in a sustained way”, said the Minister. “We will launch Phase 3 the public consultation process soon and this will give an opportunity to focus in a very practical way on what needs to be done. We want to hear from as many people as possible and I will be announcing details in that regard early next year.”
For Phase 2, there were a number of avenues by which people can participate, participating at 3 regional meetings in Cork, Dublin and Tullamore and further such opportunities will also be an integral part of the next Phase.
Note for Editors
· Part M of the Building Regulations 1997 (SI 497 of 1997) provides for minimum standards of accessibility to public buildings being built or substantially renovated. The Disability Act 2005 allowed a 10-year period for existing public buildings to reach this standard.
· The Regulations applied immediately to new buildings and to substantial changes to existing buildings made after their commencement date.
· Part M was subsequently amended with effect from 1 January 2012 and this higher standard of accessibility requirements becomes mandatory for then existing public buildings as from 1 January 2022.