Longford woman Teresa Mallon spent a morning pitch side in Croke Park recently - with Ministerial approval.
The Aughnacliffe native was part of a group, joined by Minister of State with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, at the iconic stadium for the launch of a major international conference on disability and employment, sponsored by the Rehab Group, and hosted by the IASE (Irish Association of Supported Employment).
Ms. Mallon is the chairperson of the IASE – a national voluntary organisation which promotes access to the workplace for people with disabilities. she will be heavily involved in bringing to Ireland the European Union of Supported Employment (EUSE) conference, from June 11 to 13, which will see top level speakers from across the globe address issues related to supporting people with disabilities and other marginalised groups into employment.
Ms Mallon is also the director of Saint John of God Menni Services, which provides a range of residential and day services to 485 children and adults presenting with an Intellectual disability within south west and inner city Dublin. She has been involved with the IASE since 1997 and was previously chairperson from 2000 to 2002.
Last year, she was part of the IASE team who won the bid to host the EUSE conference in Ireland for the first time since 1995.
The EUSE conference launch follows closely on the release of a new Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report on disability in the labour market, which found people with disabilities in Ireland are only half as likely to be employed as the rest of the working-age population and are more likely to suffer discrimination at work.
The conference received a major boost when it was made an associated event of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which means it could potentially play a role in shaping employment and social policy affecting almost 500 million European citizens.
Speaking at the conference launch, Ms Mallon said she believes the conference offers a golden opportunity for Ireland to consider its progress to date and how the country can further promote equality at work by supporting people with disabilities into jobs.
“Ireland is a world leader in best practice in supported employment for individuals with a disability and we have made considerable progress in recent years,” she explained.
“However, it is clear, particularly in light of the ESRI research published last month, that there is still a lot of work to do. This European conference will place significant emphasis on the positive contribution individuals with a disability can make to the workplace as well as exploring the challenges and solutions to more inclusive employment practices and worksites.”
Angela Kerins, chief executive, of the Rehab Group, which is sponsoring the conference, commented: “As one of Ireland’s leading employers of people with disabilities, and as an organisation which supports thousands of people into jobs thanks to the training, skills and supports provided, we are proud to be associated with this event.
“We know that people with disabilities face significant barriers to employment and it is vital that society uses every tool at its disposal in enabling them to participate fully in the life of our community, both socially and economically.
“We look forward to working with our international colleagues at this conference in developing new strategies and ideas to better promote access to employment for people with disabilities and others who are marginalised, in reducing the risk of poverty, and consequent social care and welfare costs to the State, and in enhancing people’s independence and personal development.”