Ratify UN CRPD!
Disability campaigners addressed their public representatives on Wednesday, 29th March, 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 now 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, including Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) gathered at Leinster House 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 people with 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. 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.
Brendan Sinclair, who lives in Irish Wheelchair Association housing in Clontarf said:
I should have choices available to me that are equal to others, and this Convention is absolutely vital in order to make that equality a reality. I urge the government to ask themselves the following question: what would you do if you didn't have the opportunity to leave home when you did, to flourish as a free woman or man? What would you do if you had to wait as long as ten years to be offered a place to live, where you could be your own individual and how do you think your life would be now if so? Because doing nothing about the lack of accessible accommodation in this country is condemning people with disabilities to a dull life of solitude. Please, ratify it.