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Decision to disallow opposition amendments on Disability Bill outrageous

3 May, 2005

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has described as "outrageous" a decision by the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights to disallow opposition amendments regarding the definition of disability in the Disability Bill 2004.

Speaking following his participation in the Committee Stage debate on the Bill at Leinster House today Deputy Crowe said, "I cannot accept the Government's outrageous decision to rule out of order opposition amendments regarding the definition of disability because they might impose a charge on the state."

"The overly narrow definition of disability in the Government's Bill is one of the ten fundamental flaws in the legislation that has been indentified by the Disability Legislation Consultation Group.

"The definition issue is at the heart of the Bill. The definition the Government proposes will actually result in some people with disabilities being denied their rights including needed services. The definition is also different from the definition of disability in the Equal Status Act. What will result then, is two-tiers of people with disabilities in our society - those who are disabled according to the Equal Status Act and those who are disabled according to the Disability Act. There is no need for this to happen, and it actually undermines the whole project of protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

"I am appalled that the Government's attitude has been to shut down the debate on this issue by disallowing the opposition amendments on the basis that a consistent definition of disability would impose an additional cost on the state. It just goes to prove that for the Government this Bill is not about rights, it is about saving money.

"Despite the Chair's decision today, Sinn Féin will continue to challenge the Government's definition of disability. We will not be deterred from tabling amendments that in our view address the ten fundamental flaws of the Bill and if passed would give us the rights-based legislation we have campaigned for." ENDS

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