Thursday 11th November
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disability, Anne Rabbitte T.D., has published Ireland’s first report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report describes what Ireland is doing to protect and enhance the rights of people with disabilities.
Ireland ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2018. Ireland’s Initial State Report under Article 35 of the Convention was formally submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by Ireland’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on the 8th of November 2021. The report gives an article by article account of how the Convention is being implemented in Ireland.
Publishing the report, Minister Rabbitte said:
Submission of our first report under the Convention is an important milestone for disability rights in Ireland. I am sincerely grateful to all those, in particular people with disabilities and Disabled People’s Organisations, all of whom took part so willingly and constructively in the preparation of our report.
It is encouraging to see the progress that we have made across many areas. Equally, the report provides a useful reminder of where we still have work to do to ensure that people with disabilities in Ireland can enjoy their full rights in the spirit of the Convention. I’m also acutely aware that we need to progress the ratification of the Optional Protocol as soon as possible and I and the Government are committed to this.
The Government is committed to further advances in the protection and promotion of the rights of people with disabilities in the years ahead and I am pleased to be leading this work in cooperation with my colleagues across Government.”
The report notes work being done across a range of areas to improve accessibility and to promote the full participation of people with disabilities, including:
- Adoption and implementation of the National Disability Inclusion Strategy 2017-2022;
- Enactment of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (ADMC) Act 2015, which provides for a comprehensive reform of the support system for people with capacity difficulties, abolishing wardship and replacing it with a decision support framework that is aligned with the aims of the Convention;
- Work underway to operationalise the provisions of the ADMC Act, including the establishment of the Decision Support Service, which will begin operating in June 2022;
- Enactment of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017, which confers official language status on Irish Sign Language;
- Introduction in early childhood care and education of the Access and Inclusion Model to support the inclusion of very young children with disabilities in mainstream childcare and early childhood education settings;
- Investment in accessible transport under the ‘Transport For All’ initiative;
- Increased investment in education for people with special educational needs both in mainstream and in special settings;
- Increases in the numbers of people with disabilities in higher education under the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2021;
- Policy changes to support the participation of people with disabilities in employment following the Make Work Pay Report of 2017;
- The introduction of the EmployAbility model of supported employment services for jobseekers with disabilities;
- Well established, effective and inclusive consultation mechanisms for disability stakeholders on a number of levels, including an independent Disability Stakeholders Group, Departmental Consultative Committees and a newly established Disability Participation and Consultation Network.
The report acknowledges areas where further progress in required in law, policy and practice to give full effect to the Convention in Ireland, and outlines plans in respect of these areas, including:
- Development of an implementation plan for the Convention in Ireland.
- Ratification of the Option Protocol to the Convention.
- Development of legislation on Protection of Liberty Safeguards.
The report will now be considered by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ireland will be invited to appear before a future meeting of the Committee to discuss the report.
- The Convention places a strong emphasis on supporting the meaningful participation of people with disabilities in policy and decision making in areas that affect their lives. In keeping with this, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth provided funding in 2020 to establish a Disability Participation and Consultation Network to support the participation of people with disabilities in policymaking.
- This Network includes Disabled Persons Organisations. The Network participated in the consultation run by the Department as part of the preparation of the report, and held its own consultation events. Funding has also been made available to support the preparation of a shadow report by the Coalition of Disabled Persons Organisations.
- The report, as well as summary reports of the consultation events and written submissions can be accessed on the website of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth here.