Today in Dáil Éireann, Deputy Broughan will speak in support of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 which will fulfil Ireland’s commitment to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).   This long-awaited bill will amend a number of Acts including the Juries Act 1976, the Electoral Act 1992, the National Disability Authority Act 1999, the Equal Status Act 2000, the Disability Act 2005 and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.

Disability campaigners and persons with disabilities in Ireland have been calling for this ratification since Ireland signed the convention in March 2007, almost a decade ago. While this delay has been attributed to Ireland being a dualist State, Ireland is the only EU member state not to have ratified this UN Convention. Deputy Broughan criticised the Minister for bringing an incomplete bill before the Dáil. Large chunks of the Bill will be introduced at Committee stage by way of amendments and therefore will not be fully scrutinised by members of the full Dáil. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has also stated its concern at this and said “in the absence of published draft legislation, it is difficult for the Commission to discharge its function to examine legislative proposals under Article 10(2)(e) of the 2014 Act and to make concrete recommendations which can be of utility to the legislature…”

Deputy Broughan says “I welcome the Bill before us today and I warmly welcome Ireland’s commitment to also ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which allows for complaints to be submitted to the CRPD. Paddy Connolly, the CEO of Inclusion Ireland, wrote a very moving and impassioned piece in the Irish Examiner today entitled “People with disabilities are not a diagnosis. They are human.” Some of his words really struck a chord with me including “the greatest threat to the wellbeing of people who have disabilities is their invisibility”, it “renders them non-agents of their own fate, passive recipients of care rather than rights-holders.” We, as legislators, have to ensure that persons with disabilities do not feel invisible, are not treated as if they are invisible and we have to enhance and protect their rights to live full and equal lives. While I will be supporting the Bill and welcome that it was finally before us today, it is time for the Government to actually listen to, and consult with, persons with disabilities and put words, strategies and promises into action.”