Minister makes comments at Galway conference on the use future EU Structural Funds to advance community living for the vulnerable.
Today in Galway Minister of State Brian Hayes attended a conference on using future EU Structural Funds to advance community living for vulnerable groups.
Minister Hayes was invited by NUI Galway to speak to an audience of advocates for older people and persons with disability drawn from across Europe. He spoke of the positive effect of EU membership on Ireland, not only in economic terms, but also in terms of opening ‘closed’ minds to the benefits of a more inclusive Irish Society.
Noting stark demographic projections that the number of Irish people over 65 will near treble from currently 0.5 million to 1.3 million by 2041, Minister Hayes commented that,
“If we have learned any lesson from our recent history, it must be that supporting independent and dignified living for vulnerable people must be prioritised. There are obvious risks and dangers attached to putting people in institutions. Out of sight is in many cases out of mind.”
Referring to relevant research he stressed that ‘inclusion’ must also encompass allowing older persons to continue to contribute to the social, economic and family life of their communities and wider society.
On the related matter of the importance of EU funding to vulnerable groups, and speaking in his capacity as responsible Minister of State for negotiating the annual EU budget with other member states, he emphasised that,
“It would be a disaster for Europe if we cannot agree the MFF for the next 7 years. We have worked hard to implement the policy safeguards for the European financial system, not to agree the EU budget at this stage would send out all the wrong signals when Europe needs confidence. Without the MFF we cannot agree the necessary programmes required to bring forward spending in key areas of EU policy. I want to reassure you, an audience looking for European leadership in the area of independent living, that Ireland as president of the EU is doing everything in our power to broker an agreement between the institutions.”