Clare Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway has welcomed the Government’s decision to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
“Since my election to Seanad Éireann in 2011, I have campaigned relentlessly for Ireland to ratify the UN Convention,” said the Ennistymon native adding, “there have been great strides in how society approaches persons with disabilities, but there is more to be done.”
According to Senator Conway, “People with disabilities are only half as likely to be in employment as others of working age. It’s clear that more work is now needed by employers, government departments and disability organisations to ensure people with disabilities can participate more fully in the labour market.
“My own story so far is positive. I have had many barriers to overcome, plenty of setbacks and no doubt there will be lots more challenges along the way, however, I am lucky.
“Since becoming a Senator I have worked with the various sections in identifying the best way for the Houses of the Oireachtas to accommodate my needs. This sends a clear message that they are willing and able to accommodate people from all backgrounds. We now need to work towards that being the norm in all workplaces.”
For Finian McGrath, Minister of State for Disabilities, this has been a priority in Government and he has come under fire from the disability sector for failing to have the Convention adopted earlier.
Already the country’s largest disability charity has urged the Government to pass all of the required legislation if formal ratification of the Convention is to have any real impact.
Rehab Group, which supports over 17,000 people with disabilities, has warned this will have no real impact on the lives of people with disabilities if legalisation identified in the Treaty is not implemented.
Kathleen O’Meara, Rehab Group director of communications said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement to begin a process to ratify the UNCRPD, but there is a significant amount of legalisation that now needs to be passed.
“The Government has now agreed to prioritise all remaining necessary legalisation. This is a commitment it must deliver on. This legalisation cannot be delayed any longer.
“We do not want empty gestures, we need legalisation to create real change. Without legalisation, we will have taken the same path as many other countries – ratify and then consider the consequences. But we didn’t need to wait over a decade to do that.
“People with disabilities have waited for more than 10 years to have their rights recognised. We work with thousands of people with disabilities across the country every day and we understand how important this issue is.”
The United Nations adopted the Convention in 2006 to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all persons with disabilities with respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms.