Rights of people with disabilities


Sir, – Today Ireland will reach the ignominious milestone of the 10-year anniversary of signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in March 2007 without having ratified it.

Bearing in mind that it, rightly, took Ireland less than two years to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and that Ireland ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women immediately, what does a decade of delay mean for how Ireland values the rights of persons with disabilities?

In that decade, six separate ministers for justice and numerous junior ministers simply repeated the government’s intention to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, but if a decade is as quickly as possible, it beggars belief what a slow procession would look like. Successive governments have simply failed to prioritise the rights of persons with disabilities and now Ireland is the only EU member state not to have ratified the UNCRPD.

This represents a huge embarrassment internationally.

Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath has recently said in the Oireachtas that “while Ireland’s not having ratified the CRPD is a recurring point of criticism by the United Nations . . . it should be noted that Ireland is in many respects more advanced than many other European Union member states in terms of the quality of service and the position of people with disabilities”.

Considering that Ireland retains a law called the Lunacy Act 1871, which brands people with impaired capacity as lunatics and idiots, that there is continued abuse of residents in institutional care, that there are almost 4,000 children waiting longer than the legal limit for an assessment of need and reports that fewer than 33 per cent of working-age people with disabilities are employed, persons with disabilities deserve to have the veracity of the Minister’s claim scrutinised both domestically and by the international community. – Yours, etc,


Campaigns & Policy Lead,

Inclusion Ireland,

Unit C2,

The Steelworks,

Foley Street,

Dublin 1.