Rights of persons with disabilities


Sir, – Contrary to Finian McGrath’s remarks (News, July 14th) regarding the delay in ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), there is no “clash of rights” between family carers and people with disabilities but simply a denial of rights towards each of these by Government and services.

A “clash of rights” is when an individual or group having rights results in the denial of rights of another person or group and vice versa.

However, people with disabilities having a right to live in our own home as opposed to a large residential institution does not impinge on family carers’ rights. Instead, it is the social policies that decide that living “in your own home” translates as remaining with, and dependent on, your parents as long as they live being the only alternative to a nursing home, instead of having your own place regardless of whether this goes against the wishes of either or both, thus denying rights to both.

Family carers having rights to take breaks from caring needn’t necessarily mean sending people with disabilities to institutional settings against their will or, in Mr McGrath’s more crude use of words, “dumping” them, but the current lack of personal assistant provision and, where necessary, home nursing provision for people with disabilities, denies people with disabilities rights to sufficient support and independence, while denying family carers any right to the same amount of time off, which is legally obliged in paid employment.

Thus, it is the sheer neglect and disregard by politicians, decision-makers and policy-makers (and to an extent, some disability services) of the rights of each of these groups which negatively affect both.

It is time the pitting of family carers and people with disabilities against each other stopped and both were treated with the dignity, respect and rights they deserve.

No additional legislation, with the exception of the annual Money Act, should be necessary in order to start making real progress on providing what is right, so Mr McGrath and his colleagues should get on with ratifying the UNCRPD instead of continuing to give tiresome excuses. – Yours, etc,


Ballinteer, Dublin 16.