Government to ratify UN laws on rights of people with disabilities

UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities to be ratified by early 2019

Finian McGrath first promised the convention would be ratified ‘within six months’, in May 2016, but has faced legal advice and obstacles.  Photograph: Dave Meehan

Finian McGrath first promised the convention would be ratified ‘within six months’, in May 2016, but has faced legal advice and obstacles. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 

The Government will finally ratify the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities (CPRD), Minister of State for disability, Finian McGrath, has announced.

Ireland is the only EU member state not to have ratified the convention, despite having signed the framework in 2007. Ratification will happen by the end of 2018 or early 2019 and will make its provisions legally binding.

Mr McGrath first promised the convention would be ratified “within six months”, in May 2016, but has faced legal advice and obstacles that had to first be overcome before the State was ready to stand over its provisions.

He said the decision by Government on Tuesday was a “watershed” moment for people with disabilities here.

“Today marks a key moment, not only for people living with a disability, but also for their families, friends and support networks and for Irish society generally.

“Today the Government reaffirms its commitment to the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities by approving the process to initiate ratification of the Convention,” said the Minister.

“We will shortly bring a resolution to the Dáil that enables us to ratify the CRPD. This will be followed by the depositing of the instrument of amalgamation with the United Nations. The Convention enters into force 30 days after being deposited.”

At Tuesday’s cabinet meeting Government agreed to prioritise all remaining necessary legislation.

“The Disability (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill will be enacted by the end of 2018 along with a new Bill to provide safeguards for older people, persons with a disability and certain categories of people with mental health issues to ensure that they are not unlawfully deprived of their liberty in residential facilities,” the Minister said.

Institutions

In July last year he said legal disagreement over whether families should be allowed to leave disabled relatives in institutions was one of the key factors delaying ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, according to a Minister.

“The two key issues are deprivation of liberty and legislation on assisted decision-making.

“There’s a big debate going on behind the scenes with families. If there is a person with a disability who doesn’t want to go into a residential place, some of the families would be very, very concerned about that.”

He said there was a “clash of rights” between those of families who want to place disabled loved ones in an institutional setting, and the rights of disabled people who did not want to be there. This needed to be resolved legally.

He said he agreed with disability campaigners who have described this placing of relatives in institutions as akin to “kidnapping” or being “dumped” out of society.

The CRPD, which was adopted by the United Nations in 2006, has eight guiding principles: Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons; non-discrimination; full and effective participation and inclusion in society; respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity; equality of opportunity; accessibility; equality between men and women, and, respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.