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Dáil must commit to full implementation of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Ó Caoláin

27 March, 2018 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Speaking in the Dáil this evening, Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for people with disabilities Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has urged to Government to undertake the ratification of the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so that no longer will people with disabilities be denied access to the key mechanism for address and redress of the denial of their rights under the Convention.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said:

“I wish at the outset to extend a warm welcome to all representatives of disability organisations who have joined us this evening in the visitors’ gallery. I welcome too the Irish Sign language translator and our friends from the Irish Deaf Society. Fáilte romhaibh uilig. I also welcome the Minister of State with Responsibility for Disability Issues, Deputy Finian McGrath, and trust that he will find favour with our motion.

“Despite the recent ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we, the people of Ireland, still have a considerable journey ahead of us. The motion before us tonight is a comprehensive compendium of critical steps that we in Sinn Féin believe are necessary to address the deficits in supports for people with disabilities. We believe they represent a societal imperative.

“Improved resourcing of services and supports is an oft cited demand. There is a tendency by some, including some elected voices, to think only of healthcare provision and social protection payments when considering the needs of people with disabilities. However, like all of us blessed with better health in mind and body, people with disabilities, be it physical, intellectual or both, have needs across all state services.

“Adequate Social Protection payments are of course an absolute right and should reflect the real cost of living with a disability. Healthcare needs at every stage of life must be provided. No one with serious medical needs should fear the loss of their medical card. Specially tailored housing to meet the needs of people with disabilities and a significant increase in funding for housing adaptation grants through the local authorities. Employment opportunities to be proactively encouraged and appropriately supported. Encourage and facilitate access to all levels of education, assisting people with disabilities attain appropriate qualifications. All public transport options should be wheelchair accessible and private providers encouraged to likewise facilitate wheelchair users. Other transport related initiatives need to be taken to facilitate the independent transport needs of people with disabilities, mindful in particular of those who by virtue of location have no access to public transport.  

“Governments have failed to properly respond to the needs and rights of people with disabilities, in part because of the silo nature of each Department’s operation. We need joined-up thinking. We need an overseer Department that will co-ordinate the actions and initiatives of all Departments in meeting their responsibilities to people with disabilities.

“People with disabilities, their families, their carers, all need a champion at the Cabinet table.

“Without the ratification of the Optional Protocol, people with disabilities will be denied access to the key mechanism for address and redress of the denial of their rights under the Convention. That access, that entitlement, is what is required. Government gave a commitment prior to the last General Election to ratify both at the same time. That promise has now been reneged on. How long must people with disabilities wait before their rights under this Convention can be vindicated?

“I encourage Minister McGrath to seek a Government re-consideration of the decision to defer ratification of the Optional Protocol. Nothing will change what needs to be changed speedier than enforceability.

“I also call on Government to immediately abolish the ‘loco parentis’ clause in homecare nursing contracts. The current requirement, while clinical staff are in attendance, of the parent having to remain in the home, or appointing another competent adult to attend in their absence, is causing significant and unnecessary stress for already stretched parents coping with the care needs of children with complex medical conditions. They are true bearers of pure love. Let us scrap the clause and show some little appreciation and kindness.

“Finally, in this World Autism Awareness Week, let us together take a stand in this House by not just allowing this Motion to pass but by committing to its implementation in full.” 

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