“In the same week as we are celebrating the achievements of the Special Olympians in Los Angeles and Team Ireland´s outstanding medal wins, it is incredible to think that at the same time the Irish Government is excluding young people with a disability from accessing the Youth Guarantee".
This was stated by Marian Harkin MEP following a meeting in Castlebellingham, Co. Louth which was called to lobby the Government to continue the Walk Peer Programme which facilitates young persons with a disability to enter the workforce.
“I was genuinely shocked and appalled to learn that young Irish people with a disability cannot access the Youth Guarantee in the same way as their peers.
“The Youth Guarantee is a new European approach to tackling youth unemployment which guarantees that all young people under 25 get a good quality offer for a job, an apprenticeship or traineeship or continued education within 4 months of the leaving formal education or becoming unemployed.
“The Youth Guarantee is seen as a European flagship project designed to give some hope to all young people under 25 who are unemployed.
“Yet Ireland only extends the Youth Guarantee to those on the live register and not those on Disability Allowance or Disability Benefit. I find such a scenario absolutely incredible, that we are actively discriminating against young people with a disability. This is an incredibly negative message to give out and especially to young people who are starting out with hopes and dreams of gaining employment.
“Furthermore, I believe that excluding young people with a disability from the Youth Guarantee is discriminatory. EU legislation is quite clear on the issue of non discrimination in the area of employment. The EU is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which specifically protects the rights of persons with disabilities in relation to employment matters. I have made an official complaint to the European Commission on the matter and also written to Commissioner Thyssen asking for her intervention.
"The Government are about to launch the new Comprehensive Employment Strategy. I hope they will address the glaring omission in regard to the access of young persons with disabilities to the Youth Guarantee so that we do not need to pursue this matter further at EU level" Marian Harkin concluded.