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UNCRPD Ratification ‘a welcome step’ – Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

7 March, 2018 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability Rights Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D. has today warmly welcomed the unanimous Dáil decision to approve the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the rights of People with Disabilities.

Deputy Ó Caoláin has been a consistent campaigner on the issue over a number of years.

Teachta Ó Caoláin said;

“The ratification of the Convention which has the capacity to markedly transform the lives of a section of our people who have been marginalised and excluded for far too long is warmly welcomed.

“I have been privileged as a member of the Oireachtas to witness the formal declaration of recognition of Traveller Ethnicity, of Irish Sign Language as an official language of our Country and now the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. All these are forward looking steps and are extremely important.

“They represent marked societal progress for Ireland in respect of inclusion and equality.

“I commend Minister Finian Mc Grath and this Government for finally ratifying this Convention and ending an almost 11 year wait since its initial signing by the then Irish Government.

“This Convention provides the framework to promote, protect and ensure the rights of all people with disabilities and promotes equal rights in all areas of life. These are the basic fundamentals that should be afforded to any person in a decent and modern society, able- bodied, disabled or however any of us might be described.

“Whilst the ratification of this Convention is most welcome, I must stress it is only another step. The real measure of any delivery in terms of rights will be in its implementation.

“In my most recent Dáil contribution on this issue, I indicated that there is a body of legislation required in order to truly effect delivery of what is set out in this Convention. This cannot be just a box-ticking exercise. Persons with disabilities have waited for far too long and have campaigned in all weathers to have their rights affirmed.

“My concerns remain and I therefore call on the Government and on Minister Mc Grath not to slacken at this point. I call on them to bring forward the necessary legislation and without delay. Engage with us. Engage with the disability groups. Engage with persons with disabilities themselves in order to get it right.

“The Assisted-Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 needs to be commenced in full. We are still waiting for the establishment of a Decision Support Service to be put in place for those persons who require it.

“The best placed persons to oversee and monitor the implementation of all that is contained in this Convention are those who have most to gain from it. Persons with Disabilities, and those groups who advocate for them, need to be part of this process.

“I believe Government Departments and the Public Service broadly need to become the leaders and benchmark for inclusion, access and equality for Persons with Disabilities.

"I urge that an employment strategy for each Public Body be rolled out and I also believe that there should be a place on each State Board for a disabled person.

“This would be a true and worthy statement of equality and inclusion. However, the reality of ‘silo’ Government Departments requires a lead Minister and lead Department.

“I am convinced that that function and that that role can only be performed by the Taoiseach of the day and the Department of An Taoiseach.

“Finally, I would like to thank all those Persons with Disabilities who have campaigned on the streets, in this House and at our Committees seeking the ratification of this Convention.

“It is your day and you should all be proud of yourselves. Do not rest now. Keep this Government to its promises.

“To the Disability Federation of Ireland and Inclusion Ireland, your achievement today, along with all the other representative groups, merits our special thanks.

“Without your work we would not be at this point. And, very lastly to Senator John Dolan who has done so much work in the Houses of the Oireachtas since being elected to Seanad Éireann in 2016 to advance the rights of those with Disabilities and who now chairs our All-Party Group on Disabilities - your courage, passion and energy is inspirational.”

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