Ireland to ratify UN disability convention at the end of March

The country will become the last EU state to take ratification step

 Minister for Foreign Affairs  Charlie Flanagan will bring a memo to Cabinet on the UN Convention on People with Disabilities  on Tuesday. File photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan will bring a memo to Cabinet on the UN Convention on People with Disabilities on Tuesday. File photograph: Eric Luke

 

Ireland will formally ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability at the end of March, becoming the last of the 27 European Union States to do so.

However, the Government will make a number of reservations and declarations, steering away from the obligations on employment with relation to recruitment in the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces and the emergency services.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan will bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday in conjunction with the Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath. Ratification of the convention has been a priority for the Independent Alliance minister and he has been criticised for not succeeding in getting it adopted sooner.

The Convention was adopted by the United Nations in 2006 and protects equal treatment for all people with disabilities with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Successive governments in Ireland did not succeed in ratifying the Convention citing legal barriers - dozens of existing laws needed to be amended to come into line with the Convention.

New laws

However, in recent years a raft of new laws - namely the Assisted Decision-Making Capacity Act 2015 and the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) bill 2016, have ensured a closer legal alignment with the Convention.

Another stand-alone Bill on the deprivation of liberty of older people and persons with disabilities within the health services also needs to be drafted.

The Cabinet decision will mean that ratification of the Bill will go ahead despite not all the legislation being in place. The Government wants to prioritise the passage of the two Bills through the Oireachtas and to sign the commencement order for the 2015 Act.

The only reservation being formally entered by the State is relation to Article 27 of the Convention which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability to work and employment. The reservation will state that this Article’s obligation will not apply to recruitment to any of the State’s policing, defence or emergency services.