873. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Justice the current policy regarding the employment of persons with disabilities in her Department and in each State and semi-State body under the aegis of her Department; the disability quota of her Department at present; if there is an active campaign to increase the disability workforce from the current target of 3% to a minimum of 6% by 2024; if this quota has now been exceeded; if so, the details of same; if there has been an advertised competition in relation to the quota; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41598/21]


Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): My Department and the bodies, agencies and offices under the aegis of my Department, with the exception of An Garda Síochána, follow the Civil Service Code of Practice on the employment of people with disabilities and also adhere strictly to Equality legislation including the Disability Act 2005 and Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015. As the Deputy may be aware, Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 which relates to Public Service Employment does not apply to An Garda Síochána.
The Deputy may wish to note that An Garda Síochána, as per their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Statement & Action Plan 2020-2021 are committed to developing a Code of Practice for the employment of people with disabilities to support better employment outcomes for people with disabilities in An Garda Síochána.
An Equality Policy is in place in my Department, and we are currently in the process of developing an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy.
Part 5 of the Disability Act 2005 provides for a statutory report on the employment of people with disabilities in the public sector, which is submitted to the National Disability Authority (NDA). This report is compiled by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, using information provided by all public bodies staffed by civil servants, and gives details of the number of people with a disability employed in the Civil Service. The 2020 report indicated that 138 out of 2,729 Department of Justice employees, or 5.1%, reported having a disability. This exceeds the current 3% target of employment of persons with disabilities set in the Disability Act 2005.
As my Department relies on the Public Appointments Service to assign the majority of its staff, the Department is limited in its ability to increase the percentage of staff who have a disability. However, the Department is delighted to take part in the Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) programme every year. WAM is an initiative of the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD), which offers a paid mentored work experience placement to graduates with disabilities. So far this year, two graduates with disabilities have undertaken WAM placements in the Department. In addition, a previous WAM participant now occupies a permanent role in the Department, having been successful in a PAS competition and subsequently promoted in an internal competition.
Candidates who have disabilities are provided with the necessary additional accommodations and supports at every stage of the recruitment process, including at shortlisting and interview. Candidates are invited to indicate any accessibility supports they may need as part of the communication surrounding a recruitment competition.