The Minister of State for Disability, Anne Rabbitte TD, has said she was very impressed by the level of integration that exists within County Wexford for people with disabilities.
Minister Rabbitte visited the Model County last week at the invitation of Minister James Browne who said he was delighted to welcome her to the county.
Visiting the County Wexford Community Workshop in Enniscorthy and also St Aidan's Services in Gorey, Minister Rabbitte told this newspaper that the purpose of her visit was to familiarise herself with some of the services and supports available to people here for people with disabilities.
Minister Rabbitte also learned about the work of the Hope Cancer Support Centre and Cumas while here.
'There is fantastic integration for people here in Wexford and I really feel that has to be applauded,' said Minister Rabbitte.
From County Galway, Minister Rabbitte said integration to the same degree was not as evident on that side of the country.
'We don't have these types of things in Galway and I think it's amazing to see the way people with disabilities are totally integrated into society here,' she said.
Minister Rabbitte said there are a number of areas that she would like to focus attention on nationally including broad-based assessment of needs which she feels needs to be improved.
'We absolutely need additional assessment of needs and it's clear there is a backlog that is critical to deal with,' she said.
She also said integration of services is another area that needs to be improved and said a lot can be learned from how things are done in County Wexford.
Minister Rabbitte also said there needs to be a lot more support available for carers including extra provision of respite.
'It's very important that respite is available because people are exhausted and are essentially burnt out,' she said.
She said that leads to a situation where the need for support is doubled because it's not just the person with a disability that needs support but also their carer.
'When you have a situation where a carer is exhausted or burnt out then you have a scenario where you have to support the family as well as the person with the disability,' said Minister Rabbitte.
She also said implementing measures to help people with disabilities into employment is also very important.
Commenting on the work being done in places like Kilcannon Garden Centre and cafe she said the County Wexford Community Workshop is doing fantastic work to help people with disabilities play a full and active role in society.
'The work they are doing is brilliant but one of my priorities will be to see how can we expand on that work,' she said.
'We need to implementing ways of supporting our young people and help get them quality integration,' she added.
Minister Rabbitte said she hopes to return to the Model County soon to view first hand what's taking place in Wexford town and New Ross.