Posted 08.03.2021

Disability Action welcomes the publication on 5 March of the report by the Disability Strategy Expert Advisory Panel to help inform the development of new Social Inclusion Strategies agreed to by the Executive under the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ framework.

In particular, Disability Action firmly endorses the Panel’s view that the next Disability Strategy must be explicitly rights-based and act as the central tool for implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Northern Ireland, which is long overdue and needed now more than ever. 

The Expert Advisory Panel*, appointed in October 2020 and tasked with producing a series of recommendations in a report to Deirdre Hargey, Minister for Communities, has examined the themes and key actions the forthcoming, cross-departmental Disability Strategy should include and highlighted gaps in provision that it should address. The report is an independent assessment and presents recommendations and measures across thematic measures, including: autonomy and independent living; equality and non-discrimination; accessibility and intersectionality.  

Disability Action supports the four core priorities underpinning the report which, the Panel states, should be reflected in the final Disability Strategy. The priorities include: participation and leadership of d/Deaf and disabled people; economic security of d/Deaf and disabled people, autonomy of d/Deaf and disabled people and resources to achieve the Strategy’s objectives. We believe these priorities cannot be achieved without the voice and lived experience of the disabled community in Northern Ireland being front and centre in the design and delivery of robust legislative and policy solutions. 

We therefore welcome the stated commitment by Minister Hargey that these strategies be "drafted with meaningful input from the people they affect most” and we look forward to working with her, the various government departments and the disabled community in the months ahead to deliver on that promise. 

Read more and download the full report and executive summary 

*The Expert Panel, appointed by the Department for Communities, comprised of Dr. Bronagh Byrne, Seán Fitzsimons, Tony O’Reilly and Professor Eilionóir Flynn