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Question

100. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to the creation of an ombudsman with sole responsibility for overseeing the disability sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14284/17]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): I consider that the statutory functions of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children, the inspection functions of HIQA, the functions of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in relation to promotion of human rights and equality of treatment under the equality Acts, and the adjudication functions of the Workplace Relations Commission in relation to those Acts, taken together, provide a comprehensive structure of support and advice to persons with disabilities who consider that public sector providers fail in their statutory duties, or who consider that they have been otherwise discriminated against, and provide for appropriate redress in any such instances. Creation of another statutory body in this context would not make for greater clarity and could lead to confusion for members of the public who seek advice or redress.
I would draw the Deputy's specific attention to section 40 of the Disability Act 2005, which makes provision for the Ombudsman to investigate complaints from members of the public about non-compliance by public bodies with the accessibility requirements set out in Part 3 of the Act or about matters contained in a Sectoral Plan prepared under that Part. I would wish to see this facility used more often. It is vitally important that people with disabilities are informed as to their rights on access to services and information, and that they are aware of their right of recourse to the Ombudsman to examine unresolved complaints. It is also crucial that both professional and non-professional people involved in the disability sector are knowledgeable about the Disability Act 2005. In this context, I have been advised by the Ombudsman that his Office regularly takes initiatives to raise awareness of its services, including the provision of an information leaflet on complaints from the sector and direct engagement with NGOs.