Rights of people with a disability
Sir, – On March 7th of last year, Dáil Éireann ratified an international agreement called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (UNCRPD), which was designed by disabled people to change their status from “objects” of charity to “subjects” with rights.
The UNCRPD does not create any new rights but identifies disabling barriers to the rights that many of us take for granted. States must report to the United Nations within two years of ratification on progress and when Ireland is examined by the UN, our record on ensuring that disabled people can access their rights will be laid bare.
Ireland had a bad start by reneging on a commitment to ratify the UNCRPD optional protocol which allows for direct communication by citizens to the UN.
This protocol was used to devastating effect when Britain was accused of prevailing over a “human catastrophe”, Ireland was seemingly keen to avoid a possible repeat scenario here.
Progress has been slow on key reforms required to comply with the UNCRPD including the Assisted Decision-Making Act, which was introduced in 2015 to repeal the Lunacy Act of 1871.
Development of deprivation-of-liberty safeguards designed to protect the thousands of persons with a disability and older people who are in Irish care facilities and nursing homes have not been finalised.
Measures to address poverty are also required to address the consistent poverty disabled people face and a very welcome commitment to commission research on the cost of living with a disability was made in Budget 2019 but has yet to be rolled out.
The establishment of a disability advisory committee to assist the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in monitoring Ireland’s performance is very welcome and civil society will also have an essential role to play as the independent voices of disabled people must be at the heart of monitoring the UNCRPD, just as they were at the heart of its design. – Yours, etc,