People with disabilities and UN convention


Sir, – After an 11-year wait the Government brought a motion to the Dáil last week seeking ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It was passed unanimously and will be signed and lodged with the United Nations within 30 days.

It is therefore deeply concerning that we learn that the optional protocol which enables people with disabilities to make complaints when they believe their rights have been infringed is not being signed by the Government.

If Ireland signed the protocol, people with disabilities would have lodged complaints to the United Nations about our lack of rights to supports, lack of independence and freedoms to make choices and the failure of the State to ensure our full participation in society. The convention, which was written by people with disabilities and governments in 2006, is a comprehensive statement of rights which states must afford to signatories. Ireland has yet again taken up residence in a half-way house.

Irish governments have an extensive track record in not finishing what they have started or meeting our human rights obligations in full. The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004, the Disability Act 2005, the Citizens Information Act 2007, and Assisted Decision Making Act 2015 are all on the statute books but not fully enacted.

The failures to fully commence this legislation mean disabled people have no rights to educational supports or assessments of need, no rights to community supports and services, no rights to independent advocacy.

We await the establishment of decision-support services and the rights to make decisions for ourselves or have supporters of our choosing.

For all the hype about the Government finally ratifying it appears that we as disabled people have been told again that we can have our cake but we cannot eat it. The Government has continued in its deception instead of leading to true emancipation and full citizenship being afforded to 640,000 people in the State. – Yours, etc,



Disabled People of Ireland

Lower Gardiner Street,

Dublin 1.