State to ratify UN disability treaty as 'quickly as possible'


IT IS the Government’s intention to ratify a major international treaty on the rights of people with disabilities “as quickly as possible”, the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs said.

The Government was criticised yesterday by Fine Gael MEP Mairéad McGuinness for failing to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was ratified jointly by members of the EU earlier this week.

It commits countries to introducing legal rights to education, healthcare and work opportunities for people with disabilities and to abolishing legislation, customs and practices that discriminate against people with a disability.

Among the principles also included are commitments to eliminating obstacles and barriers to ensuring people with disabilities can access their environment, transport, public facilities and services and information and communication technologies.

The Ireland East MEP noted that while Ireland had signed the UN Convention on Disability in 2007, it still remained to be ratified. “The convention marks a historic development, lifting people with disabilities from a grossly unequal past into a future where they can play their part in the economic and social life of the country and achieve their full potential as people on an equal footing with their peers.

“Delaying further the ratification of the convention would actually bring shame on Ireland. We have lost an opportunity to show leadership on this issue.”

A department spokeswoman said “it is the Government’s intention to ratify the convention as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure that all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the convention are being met.”

She said Ireland did not tend to become party to treaties “until it is first in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by the treaty in question, including by amending domestic law as necessary”.

While Ireland had not yet ratified it, an interdepartmental committee on the treaty ensured that ongoing progress was being made.