Minister Kathleen Lynch to Open International Disability Policy Entrepreneurship Conference at NUI Galway

Jun 04 2014 Posted: 12:27 IST

Minister Kathleen Lynch to open ‘Disability Policy Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century – Turning Ideas into Change that Transforms Lives’ from 23-25 June 2014

Minister for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health Kathleen Lynch TD will open a major international conference ‘Disability Policy Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century – Turning Ideas into Change that Transforms Lives’, on 23 June at NUI Galway. The conference will link future disability reform agendas with the research and policy work of the EU Marie Curie Initial Training PhD Network DREAM (Disability Rights Expanding Accessible Markets) coordinated by NUI Galway’s Centre for Disability Law and Policy.

This event will bring together major agents of change in the disability policy field around the world and will focus in particular on how to translate the generalities of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into practicable reform strategies. Speakers will include international figureheads from research and policy including Baroness Vivien Stern CBE, and video addresses from Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, European Commission and Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

The conference will build on the work of the European-wide DREAM PhD network, which for the past three years and which focused on how to give practical effect to the UN Convention in areas such as: fundamental rights, e.g. the right to community living; expanding economic and market opportunities for persons with disabilities; and sustaining change with appropriate and effective institutional mechanisms at regional and national level. This PhD network was among the first in the world with a focus on the UN disability convention and was funded by the European Union as a Marie Curie Initial Training Network. The 14 researchers have all had placements in policy-oriented institutions and have gained valuable experience in translating ideas into action.

“We did not want to produce PhD books that remain on the shelf. We wanted to impart skills to people to become real agents of change and to perform useful roles in the future. It might be within governments, but it could also be in civil society or in commercial organisations,” says Professor Gerard Quinn, Principal Investigator on the project and Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy. “The phrase I use to sum it up is ‘policy entrepreneurship’ – developing people who can really bring about change that transforms the lives of our citizens with disabilities.” he concludes.

The DREAM network includes NUI Galway, the University of Leeds, Maastricht University, the University of Iceland, NOVA Norwegian Social Research, Fundosa Technosite S.A. and Swiss Paraplegic Research (SPF). More information is available at

The event will interest all those concerned with the process of change including NGOs, DPOs, governments, international and regional organisations as well as business and services. It will also be of importance to academics, students and researchers interested in the UN convention as an engine of positive change for persons with disabilities.

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