Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Government failing people with disabilities

4 February, 2004

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD today called for the immediate publication of the Disability Bill pointing out that disability groups are still waiting for it after two years of consultation.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The Disability Legislation Consultation Group published their proposals in the document Equal Rights a full year ago calling very clearly for legislation which enshrines positive rights that are enforceable by individuals.

"This legislation was promised for the last Dáil session and in the current programme of legislation, according to the Chief Whip, it is the 'flagship' bill. There is consternation in the disability sector that yet again a Bill which is not rights-based and which falls very far short of requirements is about to be published. The Taoiseach stated last week that the further delay in this long overdue Bill was because the Disability Legislation Consultation Group required further time to reply. They have refuted this suggestion and they have said that there are significant gaps between the draft legislation and their proposals for real rights-based legislation.

"This latest debacle comes at the close of the European Year of People with Disabilities - a year in which disabled people had to take to the streets to protest at Government cutbacks! There seems to be a culture of opposition to rights-based legislation of any kind in this Government. Last week we had the national embarrassment of the Immigration Bill - as published - which would have, incredibly, denied people entry to this State on the basis of having a disability or a disease. The Government has had to back down, to some extent, on that as well. We need to see positive, not regressive, action on these issues." ENDS

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