Clossure of Old Peoples Homes

Will the Health Minister intervene in the proposals to closures older people’s homes within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust areas?

Danny Kennedy says this will be an important issue for the Health Minister to consider. He stated that a major review and consultation process is currently being undertaken and hoped that all local representatives and local public took the opportunity to make representations in support of these facilities. He also said that the Health Minister has given an undertaking to the Assembly that he will look closely at the decisions reached by the various Trusts in charge of these decisions.

Alliance’s Trevor Lunn spoke of his sympathy for the Health Minister and said that he assumed the Minister would be reluctant to overrule the decision of the Health Trust.

Improving Life For People With Disabilities

What is the Assembly doing to combat the marginalisation and isolation of people with disabilities?

Mickey Brady from Sinn Fein began by pointing out that, having worked in the advice sector for 26 years prior to becoming an MLA, he was very aware of the marginalisation of people with disabilities. As a member of DSD committee, he realised that changes to legislation were not possible but it was possible to simplify claims, and the DSD Committee had called for a review of its administration.

Referring to National Disabled Week, the DUP’s Simon Hamilton pointed to the fact that the Assembly Committees were taking on people with disabilities to shadow them at work.

The inclusion of people with learning difficulties on the electoral register gave the SDLP’s Declan O’Loan hope that society was improving its treatment of people with disabilities and realising the contributions that people with disabilities could make.

Are you aware of areas where disability discrimination still exists – let us know what could be done to improve things.

Are Budget Cut Necessary To Balance The Northern Ireland Books?

The 2009-10 budget was predicated on a number of assumptions, including raising £200 million from the sale of government buildings and leasing them back. How does the Assembly intend to make up this money – cuts or efficiencies?

Alliance member Trevor Lunn said that the sale not attainable in current market. At least £1 billion is wasted on segregation and division. He went on to say efficiencies could be achieved but that the civil service was not staffed with lazy backroom staff who could be sacrificed for frontline services.

Innovative thinking was the way forward for Mickey Brady, with cash rich Housing Associations funding new builds to stimulation building sector.

Could the private sector do more to help stimulate the economy – what do you think?

10 Year Old Plan For Banbridge Still Not Published

A DOE plan, carried out in the 1990s, proposing a development strategy for Banbridge and Newry, has yet to be published.

The UUP’s Danny Kennedy criticised the excuses put forward in the past by officials for the delay in this. He stated that the current Minister is addressing this by bringing forward PPS21 (replacing the much debated PPS14) and is encouraged by lobby groups coming to put their case

Agreeing with Mr Kennedy that there were huge problems with planning permission in the past, Sinn Fein’s Mickey Brady said that PPS21 has gone some way to addressing this and that with the reform of local government, the responsibility will fall to the new super councils.

Have you had problems obtaining planning permission? How do you think things could be improved?

Improving Life For People With Disabilities

What is the Assembly doing to combat the marginalisation and isolation of people with disabilities?

Mickey Brady from Sinn Fein began by pointing out that, having worked in the advice sector for 26 years prior to becoming an MLA, he was very aware of the marginalisation of people with disabilities. As a member of DSD committee, he realised that changes to legislation were not possible but it was possible to simplify claims, and the DSD Committee had called for a review of its administration.

Referring to National Disabled Week, the DUP’s Simon Hamilton pointed to the fact that the Assembly Committees were taking on people with disabilities to shadow them at work.

The inclusion of people with learning difficulties on the electoral register gave the SDLP’s Declan O’Loan hope that society was improving its treatment of people with disabilities and realising the contributions that people with disabilities could make.

Are you aware of areas where disability discrimination still exists – let us know what could be done to improve things.

Is Everyone With Specialist Needs Catered For

People with autism living in rural areas are finding it more and more difficult to get the specialist treatment that they desperately need.

Raymond McCartney spoke passionately about the need to ensure that all funding is ‘closely scrutinised and equality proofed’ and said that it was imperative that there are sufficient specialist therapists in all regions. Gregory Campbell countered by highlighting the difficulty in attracting therapists with specialist skill sets away from metropolitan areas – a problem that needs remedied.

Should specialist therapists be given bonuses to attract them to rural areas? Is it fair to expect people in need of specialist treatment to travel to the larger cities?

Less Funding To Help The Visually Impaired Live Independently?

Why do the visually impaired receive less funding to help them live independently compared to other disability groups?

Mark Durkan took on this difficult question explaining that the problem was that funding of this kind had previously gone through health services and this has now been acknowledged as flawed. He argued that the early work of the Assembly had recognised the need for rights based funding mechanisms as well as the needs based approach previously adopted. He indicated optimism that they would continue to travel down this route and that these discrepancies would be redressed.

How can we ensure that all impairments are catered for equally? Do you feel any other groups are neglected in this way?