Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has accused the government of betraying people with disabilities by refusing to give them the right to bring complaints to an important UN body.

Deputy Shortall was commenting after it emerged from an official source that the government does not intend for the foreseeable future to ratify a crucial protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD).

Deputy Shortall said:

“When this important Convention was brought before the Dáil last week by Minister of State Finian McGrath, he refused to give assurances that Ireland’s ratification of the Convention would also include the ratification of its Optional Protocol.

“The protocol is what gives this convention teeth and makes it tangible for people, rather than aspirational. It is a key enforcement mechanism which allows people to bring complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities where they believe their rights are being violated.

“Today it has emerged, in correspondence between a disability campaigner and an adviser to the Minister, that the government had absolutely no intention of ratifying the protocol at the same time as the treaty.

“This is a kick in the teeth for people with disabilities who had reasonably assumed that the ratification of the treaty would include this crucial protocol. The fact that the Minister did not come clean about this in the Dáil last week is particularly disingenuous, as the government’s official position in its 2015 roadmap was that it would sign and ratify the protocol at the same time as the convention.

“It has already taken the government more than a decade to ratify this important convention. By failing to also ratify this protocol at this stage, the government is condemning people with disabilities to endure countless more years without any way to vindicate their rights by bringing complaints to the UN treaty committee.”

ENDS

12 March 2018