Disability campaigners addressed their public representatives today on the eve of the ten year anniversary since the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which Ireland has yet to ratify.
Ireland was one of the first countries to sign the UNCRPD on March 30, 2007 but today, ten years on, Ireland is the last EU member state where this international treaty remains to be ratified. The 600,000 people with disabilities here have watched 162 countries worldwide ratify it while Ireland has failed to do so.
The CRPD is an International Agreement directed at changing attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. The convention ensures that people with disabilities have the right to be consulted about their own welfare and enshrines their rights around access to education, transport, employment etc.
Disability campaigners from a number of charities gathered at Leinster House today to appeal to their public representatives to prioritise this international agreement which would go a long way toward legitimising their rights.
At the briefing, hosted by Senator John Dolan, people living with disabilities from Rehab Group, Irish Wheelchair Association, National Council for the Blind of Ireland, Down Syndrome Ireland and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland addressed the gathered TDs and Senators and called on them to ratify the CRPD as a matter of urgency.
The group has labelled Ireland’s refusal to ratify the treaty as a sad indictment of how out of step Ireland is with international norms on the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities.
Padraig Hanafin from Co Kerry, who works with Rehab Group in Cork, has a spinal injury following an accident at home 16 years ago and is a wheelchair user. He says people with disabilities are afraid of advancing their careers as they would lose vital supports such as medical supports.
“Should this treaty be ratified the services and supports I and others rely on for our education, to live independently and to enter employment would no longer be subject to the whim of government but be enshrined in law. Having achieved a BA and three MA degrees I felt confident of my abilities, but I knew that if I was to enter the workforce I would need to overcome some barriers. When I went to look for the supports I needed, I was met with a wall of confusion. I was bounced from one Government department to the next and back again. Having finally got into the workforce what I have learned is I have to limit my career goals and aspirations if I want to keep my essential supports such as my medical card.”
Francis Ducie, a person who uses Rehab services and lives with Aspergers said: “I always knew there was something different about me and that I didn’t fit in but I didn’t know why. I was required to fit the system and not have the system fit me.”
“Nowadays I’ve found my place. I work as a life model for art colleges. I’ve worked as an extra on the show Vikings. But it was a long journey to get here. I want to see an Ireland where people don’t have to go through what I had to. An Ireland that supports people with disabilities and fully recognises their rights.”
Kathy Ryan who lives with Early Onset Alzheimer’s said: “Having received a diagnosis of a terminal illness with no cure, it feels like being in a war zone. Against this backdrop I have had to approach St Vincent De Paul for heating oil and basics. I can’t believe that Ireland is the only European country not to have ratified this Convention – how much longer will it take the Government to respect and meet our needs and to treat us with dignity – whatever our disability. Today, I am pleading, on behalf of all people with disabilities, ratify this Convention which would go so far to meet our unmet needs.”
What can you do?
- Contact your local elected representative to express concern about the 10 year delay to ratification of the CRPD.
Contact any TD involved in Government negotiations to ask them to call for the urgent ratification of the UNCRPD.
- Editor’s Notes
- Figures from census 2012 show more than 56,000 disabled people aged over 65 lived alone and just over 69 per cent of those were women.
- Among disabled persons aged 15 to 49, 16.3 per cent had completed no higher than primary level education compared with 5.1 per cent of the general population.
- There were 162,681 persons with a disability in the labour force giving a labour force participation rate of 30 per cent. Of the total of 542,277 people aged 15 and over with a disability, 112,502 or 20.7 per cent were at work.
- The census showed that a total of 187,112 persons or 4.1 per cent of the total population were providing unpaid assistance to others in April 2011.
- 4,228 children aged under 15 years are engaged in providing care to others, with the majority of care provided by those caring for less than two hours.