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Disability Working Group

Working Group on Disability meets for the first time.

The first meeting of the Working Group on Disability was held on 15th July 2005 in Church House, Belfast. Mrs Joan Bruton, Mr James Clarke, Mrs Margaret Mann, Dr Judith McGaffin, and Rev Canon Will Murphy are members with the Rev Robin Harris as Chairman of the new group.

This group was established by the Standing Committee to address issues concerning disability that affect the Church of Ireland and to consider the implications of legislation and proposed legislation on disability in both jurisdictions. The group will be in a position to offer considered responses to proposed legislation that may have practical implications for the church and ultimately affect the legislation that is enacted.

The group plan to educate parishes on how to best implement the current Church of Ireland policy on accessibility. This policy reads:

The Church of Ireland recognises that each person is entitled to participate fully in the life of the Church;

The Church is committed to keeping policies, practices and procedures under review to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated less favourably;

The Church aims to encourage members, employers and other acting on its behalf to promote practices and attitudes which do not discriminate against people with disabilities.

The progress already made was noted by the group, with particular thanks to Mr David Johnston of Maghaberry Prison Braille Unit who met with Mrs Enid Maxwell and Mrs Margaret Mann to discuss ways of raising awareness of the needs of the disabled and to consider practical ways to address these needs. Future work for the group will include the completion of a survey of all Church of Ireland parishes, information packs for rectors and to consider the implementation of disability awareness training.

The next meeting of the Disability Working Group will be held on Tuesday 16th August 2005 at 10.30am in Church House, Belfast.

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