About the conference

Since the year 2000 (15 years to 2015), it has been established Government policy in Ireland that mainstream public services include and serve people with disabilities. This is underpinned by the Disability Act 2005.

The 2015 Annual Conference examined how leadership in the public service can ensure that services are planned, designed and delivered to include people with disabilities. The conference examined key aspects of leadership that make this a reality, as well as showcasing practical examples and the perspective of people with disabilities. This event had a cross-border focus, with speakers from both parts of the island sharing learning and experience.

The conference was a full day in-person event and included the following sessions and speakers;

Welcome: Helen Guinan, Chairperson, National Disability Authority

Opening speeches: Minister Frances Fitzgerald, T.D. Minister for Justice & Equality and Minister Stephen Farry, MLA, Minister for Employment & Learning, Northern Ireland Executive

Session 1

Chair: Robert Watt, Secretary General, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Keynote Speaker

  • Leadership to implement change in the public sector: Nuala Doherty, Director, Centre for Effective Services
  • Creating age-friendly and disability-friendly counties: Conn Murray, Chief Executive, Limerick City and County Council

Session 2

Chair: Vivian Geiran, Director, The Probation Service

  • Designing and delivering autism-friendly services for justice professionals in Northern Ireland: Shirelle Stewart, Director, National Autistic Society Northern Ireland and Christine Watts, Environmental Services Manager, Northern Ireland Assembly
  • Creating user- led inclusive digital services: Leela Damodaran, Professor of Digital Inclusion and Participation, Loughborough University, UK
  • Reflections on 15 years of mainstreaming achievements, the unfinished business, the next steps: Des Kenny, former CEO of the National Council for the Blind Ireland

Session 3

Chair: Bernie McNally, Assistant Secretary, Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Opening Speech: Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, T.D. Minister of State with responsibility for New Communities, Culture and Equality and Drugs Strategy

Keynote speaker

  • When we design for extremes everyone benefits: The Canadian online inclusive experience: David Berman, David Berman Communications
  • Creating disability-inclusive services and public places in a local council: Selina Bonnie, Access & Equality Officer and Sharon O’Grady, Senior Executive Architect, South Dublin County Council
  • Employment of people with disabilities in mainstream jobs – the experience in Northern Ireland: Terry Park, Head of Disability Employment Service, Department for Employment & Learning, Northern Ireland

Open Forum and Q&A with Chair: Christy Lynch, CEO, KARE

Closing Speech: Siobhan Barron, Director, National Disability Authority