People want employers to do more for staff with disabilities, poll shows

State told Irish law ‘must be brought into line’ with UN Convention on Rights of People with Disabilties

According to the IHREC poll, 87 per cent of people here agree that people with disabilities face barriers to participating fully in Irish society. Photograph: iStock

According to the IHREC poll, 87 per cent of people here agree that people with disabilities face barriers to participating fully in Irish society. Photograph: iStock

 

Almost nine in 10 people in the State believe employers should do more to accommodate employees with disabilities, according to a survey by Ireland’s human rights and equality watchdog.

One in five – 21 per cent – of those surveyed also said they have either witnessed or directly experienced discrimination directly related to someone’s disability.

The findings were set out in a poll of 1,200 people by Amárach research for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) to mark the United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on Friday.

In a statement also marking the day, the Law Society of Ireland expressed concern the “long promised” Disability Bill “appears to have fallen off the legislative agenda”.

Domestic law “urgently needs to be brought into line” with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD)”, Gary Lee, chairman of the Society’s Human Rights & Equality Committee, said.

The focus of this year’s IDPD is on ensuring the eventual recovery from Covid-19 sees the full participation of disabled people.

According to the IHREC poll, 87 per cent of people here agree that people with disabilities face barriers to participating fully in Irish society; 41 per cent consider that people with disabilities are not treated fairly in Irish society; 42 per cent said they believe minority groups have been sufficiently considered in Ireland’s response to Covid-19 and 24 per cent disagreed.

Sinéad Gibney, chief commissioner of the IHREC, said the poll shows “that our society has had enough of those amongst us with disabilities being sidelined and patronised”.

Rosaleen McDonagh, chairwoman of the Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee, said: “We celebrate today ourselves as disabled people, and take pride in disabled people in every sector of life, while we also look forward to the full implementation of the CPRD.”

Respecting diversity within the disabled community is also vital, taking time to honour and celebrate who we are, she said.

Ms McDonagh also expressed solidarity with disabled people across the world including those in war-torn jurisdictions, “and places where human rights are not afforded to people with disabilities”.

In its statement, the Law Society urged the State “to realise its international obligations to Irish people with disabilities”.

Ireland ratified the CRPD in 2018, 11 years after it had committed to do so, but it has yet to ratify an optional protocol to the CRPD which provides a mechanism for individual people with disabilities to make a complaint to the UN, it said.

Ratification of the protocol is among many recommendations to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities contained in a submission from the Society to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth earlier this year.

The society is “extremely concerned at the failure of the State to meaningfully progress the rights of people with disabilities in Ireland,” Gary Lee said.

“We welcome the Government commitment to commence the Decision Support Service in July 2022 and abolish the archaic Wards of Court system. However, the long promised Disability Bill seems to have fallen off the legislative agenda and we also need to urgently progress Mental Health legislation and protection of liberty safeguards.”