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Enforceable rights the only acceptable outcome of new Disability Law

21 September, 2004

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has accused the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform of standing in the way of a rights-based Disability Bill, which he has described as "the only acceptable outcome for this long-awaited legislation."

Speaking following the publication of the Government's Disability Bill 2004 and National Disability Strategy, Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"Sinn Féin is studying this package closely. Elements of the Bill and of the Disability Strategy will undoubtedly progress the situation of persons with disabilities living in this state, and so are welcome. However, I am deeply disappointed that the Government still has not delivered a fully-enforceable rights-based Bill, because while I recognise that there are elements of enforceability, at the Minister's insistence overall enforceability remains limited.

"People with disabilities are not just service users or dependents in need of care. They are a social group that face systematic discrimination, exclusion and disadvantage because we have failed to create a fully inclusive society. People with disabilities have a right to live as equal citizens, free of discrimination and disadvantage, and the state has a duty to ensure this.Without fully enforceable rights recognised in law, we have every reason to believe that - as in the past - the pace of change will be too slow because there will be too much room for prevarication.

"Inclusivity is a matter of political will. Either the Government of the day is willing to go the distance, or they are not. I hope that with the further constructive input of the Disability Legislation Consultation Group and the opposition parties including Sinn Féin, that together we can make the necessary improvements to this Bill and end up with legislation of which we can all be proud." ENDS

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