State urged to ratify UN disability treaty


FORMER EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn has called on the Government to ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

Speaking on EU disability policy at NUI Galway, Mr Flynn noted Ireland had signed the treaty in March 2007, but had not progressed to implementing its provisions.

He said the forthcoming Mental Capacity Bill was an “advance” on previous legislation, but he looked forward to “early ratification” of the UN document.

The UN has described it as a charter that replaces pity with power, charity with rights and a mechanism for ensuring accountability under the law.

Some 146 states have signed the convention, and 91 have ratified it, including many EU members, a number of South American and African states.

The US and the Russian Federation are among the larger blocs that have not moved to ratification.

Some 25 per cent of EU citizens had some form of disability and 52 per cent of them do not have access to work, Mr Flynn noted.

During his term in Europe, Mr Flynn said he had been struck by the non-governmental organisations’ description of “invisible citizens”, who were experiencing inadequate access to mainstream education, services and employment.

Mr Flynn said he realised at the time that a successful single market “had to have a strong social dimension”.

Recalling his own career as EU commissioner for employment and social affairs from 1993 to 1999, Mr Flynn said he had his own views on the maxim: “in politics, timing is everything”.

“I believe that it is timing and personalities, and these are essential for reform,” Mr Flynn told the audience at NUIG’s centre for disability law and policy.