‘No legal grounds’ for State not to ratify UN disability rights convention

Junior minister Finian McGrath to ask Cabinet on Tuesday to ratify convention

The signing of the treaty at the opening session of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations in 2007. Photograph:  Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The signing of the treaty at the opening session of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations in 2007. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

 

The ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the Government is “overdue” after 10 years of delays, the director general of the Law Society has said.

Ken Murphy said he believed there “are no legal grounds” holding up the ratification of the convention. “The directive does not create new rights, but rather consolidates existing rights in one comprehensive treaty,” he said.

Speaking ahead of International Day for Persons with Disabilities on Sunday, he said the delay in ratifying the framework represented a “failure of the State” to recognise the basic human rights of citizens with disabilities.

States that have signed up to the convention are required to promote, protect, and ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and ensure that they enjoy full equality under the law.

Minister for State with responsibility for disability issues Finian McGrath will seek support from Cabinet on Tuesday to ratify the convention.

Residential institutions

The Independent Alliance TD will also bring forward legislation for approval relating to the rights of individuals admitted to residential institutions, which is required to allow Ireland ratify the treaty.

Mr McGrath said he would be “appealing to his colleagues around the Cabinet table” to agree to formally ratify the convention before the end of the year. Ireland would be able to ratify the convention “with reservations”, while the required legislation passes through the Oireachtas, he said.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr McGrath said ratifying the long delayed UN framework was “a huge issue for the Independent Alliance”. Mr McGrath said he would be making the case at Cabinet that countries with less resources than Ireland have been able to enact the convention.

Ireland was one of the first countries to sign up to the convention in March 2007, but is now the only European Union member state yet to ratify the framework. Formally ratifying the treaty would make the convention legally binding for the Government.

Disappointing

Independent Senator John Dolan, chief executive of the Disability Rights Federation, said it was disappointing that promises to enact the convention by the end of the year had not yet been fulfilled.

Fianna Fáil spokeswoman for disability services Margaret Murphy O’Mahony was critical that legislation necessary to ratify the convention was originally due to be brought forward to the Dáil by the end of last year.