Rights of people with disabilities


Sir, – Harry McGee reports (August 9th) on the welcome news that Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath wants the long-delayed United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) ratified by the end of the year.

While all indications are that Ireland will in fact do so, it would be preferable if the language being used went beyond that of “wanting” towards “ensuring”. In the article, former minister of state Kathleen Lynch reiterated the oft-mentioned position of successive governments that the State was not prepared to ratify the convention until it was in the best possible position to deliver its provisions. Ireland has now secured the dubious distinction of being the last nation in the European Union to ratify the UNCRPD.

While aspiring towards compliance with any international convention is to be welcomed, it does not ring entirely true in this case. Ireland will enter a declaration of progressive realisation on the issue of “reasonable accommodation”, citing constitutional private property rights as a barrier.

A multitude of laws in the disability arena remain partially commenced or not commenced at all, including our Disability Act, Education of Persons with Special Education Needs Acts and the Assisted Decision-Making Act, which was much vaunted as the missing piece of the ratification puzzle and is now seven months old without commencement.

In fact, a Disability Equality Miscellaneous Bill will be forthcoming to mop up the other areas of legislative reform, as indicated in Harry McGee’s article.

While any commitment to ratification is to be welcomed, Ireland cannot hide the fact that it has taken almost 10 years to get to this point where imperfect ratification can occur. When Ireland signed the UNCRPD, Michael McDowell described it as “a blueprint for a significant improvement in the lives of these people.” Clearly those lives were not considered significant enough. – Yours, etc,


Inclusion Ireland: The

National Association

for People with

Intellectual Disabilities,

The Steelworks,

Foley Street,

Dublin 1.