Ireland should support those with disabilities

 

Sir, – The ratification of the UN disability treaty by the Government is welcome. It brings the country into a global conversation about how to advance justice for the estimated 800 million people with disabilities in the world.

This will inject fresh thinking into reform at home where it is sorely needed.

And it will bring the country deeper into a conversation in the EU about justice for persons with disabilities – affecting our citizens and all EU citizens. Little appreciated is the fact that the EU too has ratified the UN treaty alongside its member states.

Ireland will find itself tested quite soon.

In the past EU structural funds were wasted building institutions for people with disabilities in many EU states. The amounts ran to tens if not hundreds of millions of euro. That supposedly changed six years ago when new conditions were added to the funds to ensure that EU taxpayers’ money was spent instead on developing community supports to enable people live independent lives.

The regulations are up for renegotiation this year and some suggest that these conditions will be removed to “simplify” the process of using the funds to suit some states.

In solidarity with all Europeans with disabilities, Ireland should make its voice heard against these potentially retrogressive steps.

The draft regulations are due to be published by the European Commission early in May and should be watched closely. We have much more work to do to secure independence for people with disabilities at home. We simply cannot allow our taxpayers’ money to be used to build institutions across the EU. – Yours, etc,

GERARD QUINN,

Professor emeritus,

NUI Galway.