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Ireland to miss target for ratifying UN disabilities convention

  • 05 Dec 2016

Finian McGrath says ‘blockages’ in legislative system to blame for nine-year delay

Marie O'Halloran

The Irish Times

5th December 2017

Minister of State Finian McGrath has acknowledged he will not meet his target to have the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities ratified by the end of the year.

Mr McGrath, who has special responsibility for disability, had set himself the objective of ratification by the end of 2016.

“There are blockages within the legislative process and problems which must be resolved, which is why I have not signed it yet,” he said.

AAA-PBP TD Gino Kenny said 156 countries had ratified the convention. “Ireland signed it almost nine years ago but never came good on it.”

Mr Kenny added that the State’s ambassador to the UN had promised in writing to the UN in April 2012 that it would be ratified.

“People want to know when this will come into effect because the Disability Act is flagrantly breached all the time. People with disabilities are being left behind.”

In the Dáil the Minister said he would sign the convention “tomorrow morning if I had the opportunity”, but the legislation had to be in place first and there were “blockages” in the system.

Funding

He rejected Mr Kenny’s claims about abuses of the Disability Act and said investment in disability services had increased significantly. He had secured a rise of €31 million in funding within weeks of becoming a Minister and there had been an increase in funding in October’s budget.

Services for those with disabilities had been devastated over the past number of years but “we are now trying to rebuild them”.

Mr McGrath warned that “people will be coming along over the next few months, trying to steal money from the services”, but he stressed the commitment to allocate funds 2:1 in favour of services over tax cuts, and said “we must uphold that commitment”.

The AAA-PBP said a strong signal had to be sent to people with disabilities that this would be done within a matter of months.

Mr McGrath said: “I hope to see it done as quickly as possible – in a matter of weeks in fact”.

Asked if it would be done after the Christmas recess, he replied: “Absolutely. Well, hopefully.”