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Blind PhD students won’t lose benefits – Conway

15th March 2022 - Senator Martin Conway

Visually impaired or blind students taking part in a third level PhD can be assured they will not lose any benefits due to their education aspirations, Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway has said.


Senator Conway said an initiative taken by Minister Heather Humphreys will remove fears for those who are blind or have partial vision and are considering or taking part in a PhD.


Minister Humphreys signed regulations today meaning scholarship awards for blind students will not be excluded from the means test for the Blind Pension.


“As a visually impaired person who is fortunate to have had the benefit of third level education which resulted in a career in public life, I appreciate more than most the benefits of Minister Humphreys’ decision today,” Senator Conway said.


“Everyone was moved by the stories of Catherine Gallagher, who was offered the opportunity of doing a PhD, but would lose out on her disability allowance if she did so. Common sense prevailed and Minister Humphreys is now removing the barriers that PhD students with disabilities encountered.


“A similar issue existed for blind and visually impaired people who were offered the opportunity of completing a PhD and this is also rectified by today’s announcement. Blind and visually impaired people will now have the same access to education as their sighted peers.


“A recent study by the National Council for the Blind of Ireland found Ireland was one of the worst countries in Europe with over 80% of blind and visually impaired people unemployed. I am hoping today’s decision will be an important step in addressing this completely unacceptable situation.


“I would like to thank Minister Humphreys for resolving this issue and I will continue to work with her and my colleagues in Government to ensure full access to education and employment for blind and visually impaired people and for all people with disabilities,” Senator Conway said.

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