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Government failure to advance disabled rights during Disabilities year a disgrace

21 January, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said the party will boycott the Taoiseach's 'self-congratulatory' reception for the European Year of People with Disabilities (EYPD), accusing the Government of 'disgraceful hypocrisy' for their 'abject failure to advance in any way' the rights of disabled people in Ireland during the dedicated year.

Speaking in advance of his attendance at the European Year of People with Disabilities Summit meeting in Dublin, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"This Government could have and should have used the occasion, and the monies allocated for PR, to take action to significantly enhance rights protections for Irish people with disabilities. That is, to introduce rights-based domestic legislation, to propose a new EU Equality Directive on Disability, and to ultimately use the international leadership opportunity of the Irish EU Presidency to inject a fresh impetus to the conclusion of a much-needed International Convention on the Rights of Disabled People.

"Instead, despite widespread public support, the potential momentum provided by the Special Olympics and the recommendations submitted almost a year ago by the Disability Legislation Consultation Group, this Government has not even published the right-based Disabilities Bill that this country has needed and that the Government has promised for years, much less concretely improved daily conditions for people with disabilities in terms of access to needed services, increasing their independence and eliminating disability-based poverty. In this whole year the Government has accomplished nothing of consequence for citizens with disabilities and that is a disgrace.

"In this context I could not collude in a self-congratulatory exercise such as the Taoiseach's reception. Any 'celebration of achievements' at this time is misplaced. There is too much basic work yet to be done. The Government fumbled the ball on the EYPD and no PR exercise can hide this fact." ENDS

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