April 19, 2018
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD has accused the government of betraying people with disabilities by denying them the right to bring complaints under an important UN Convention which comes into force in Ireland today.
Deputy Shortall was speaking at a protest outside Leinster House this morning to mark the fact that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities takes effect today, but without a crucial protocol that greatly strengthens it.
Deputy Shortall, whose petition on the protocol garnered thousands of signatures within weeks, was joined by Senator John Dolan from the Disability Federation of Ireland.
Deputy Shortall said:
“This very important Convention was finally ratified by the government last month after what was an intolerable eleven-year delay. It is simply unforgivable that Minister of State Finian McGrath did not at the same time ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention.
“The protocol is what gives this Convention teeth. It makes it tangible for people, rather than merely aspirational. The Optional Protocol is a key enforcement mechanism which allows people to bring complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities where they believe their rights are being violated.”
Deputy Shortall added:
“I understand that Minister McGrath is at the United Nations in New York today basking in the glory of the day that the Convention comes into force in Ireland. But this will be very galling for the 640,000 people with disabilities living in Ireland who had reasonably assumed that the ratification of the Convention would also include this crucial protocol. The government’s official position in its 2015 roadmap was that it would indeed sign and ratify the protocol at the same time as the Convention.
“Within just a few weeks, thousands of people have signed a petition that I set up calling for the protocol to be ratified. This shows the real frustration that there is out there about this government’s disdain for people with disabilities. By failing to also ratify this protocol at this stage, the government is condemning people with disabilities to endure countless more years without any way to vindicate their rights by bringing complaints to the UN treaty committee.”
19 April 2018