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Failure to publish rights-based disability legislation a reflection of Minister's agenda

1 April, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said it was "absolutely unacceptable" that almost ten years had elapsed since the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities recommended the Government publish rights-based disability legislation. Deputy Ó Snodaigh made his comments as a range of groups came together in Dublin today under the umbrella of 'The Rights Make the Difference' Campaign to call on the Government to publish legislation immediately.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "It is almost ten years since the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities recommended a Disability Act which sets out the rights of people with disabilities and the means of redress for those whose rights are denied. It is absolutely unacceptable and a disgrace that we are still waiting for the legislation.

"The Minister for Injustice and Inequality, Michael McDowell has shown in the recent past that he has no problem with rushing through legislation when it suits his own personal and political agenda. We have seen this in his self-declared war on a rights-based society and as part of his war on the Good Friday Agreement. We have had two Immigration Bills, the European Arrest Warrant Bill, the Joint Investigations Bill and the PSNI Bill all rushed through. It shows that when the political will is there then Minister McDowell's department can and will deliver.

"Since I came into the Dáil almost two years ago, we have been told that disability legislation was a Government priority, and yet we have had no results. Unfortunately it is not surprising. It is clear that the political will to address this issue is not there.

"Clearly, Michael McDowell's absolute rejection of a rights-based society is preventing the legislation from being published and that is unacceptable."ENDS

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