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Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has branded as ‘disgraceful’ a response from the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability issues, Finian McGrath where he admits he has no plan or timeframe for the enactment of a key component of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Deputy Shortall said:
“The government and Minister McGrath in particular, weren’t shy about lauding themselves two weeks ago when we became the last country in the EU to finally ratify the convention, 11 years after it was agreed.

“Disability groups have constantly stated that the ability to take cases to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in order to compel the government to uphold the commitments included in the ratification process is crucial to ensuring that the government is held to account.

“The refusal to sign the protocol is a slap in the face for those who have been campaigning for so many years for implementation of UNCRPD and completely undermines the rights of people with disabilities to exercise their rights as equal citizens.”

In his response to a Dáil question to Deputy Shortall, the Minister admits that the original plan had been to sign the optional protocol at the same time as ratification, but this was abandoned as being “unrealistic”

Deputy Shortall added:

“What is particularly galling in the Minister’s response is that he cites the need for a ‘substantive cultural change’ before the protocol can be signed. Minister McGrath may be shocked to find that, as the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability issues, he himself is the one that should be leading this substantive cultural change he is content to wait around for.

“It is even more shocking that he freely admits that there is no plan or timeframe for signing the protocol. People with Disabilities have waited 11 years for this treaty to be ratified and the Minister’s inaction has turned what should have been a milestone for disability rights in Ireland into another meaningless PR opportunity for the government.

“The ratification of the convention without protocol allows the government to appear to be doing something progressive, but ensures that they cannot be embarrassed by individuals or groups having the temerity  to demand their rights as equal citizens in front of a UN Committee.  I have started a petition calling on the Minister to enact the protocol without further delay and I would urge as many people as possible to sign this.”

21 March 2018

Notes to Editors:

Uplift petition

For Written Answer on : 20/03/2018
Question Number(s): 345 Question Reference(s): 12391/18
Department: Justice and Equality


To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if the optional protocol in relation to the UNCRPD (details supplied) has been signed; if not, the reason therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) email sent to dept @ 14.07


Minister of State for Disability Issues: Mr Finian McGrath TD

While there was a commitment given, in the 2015 Roadmap, to ratify the Optional Protocol at the same time as the Convention, the current focus has been on ratifying the Convention itself as a first step. The Convention and the Optional Protocol cover a broad range of commitments some of which require substantive cultural change.  For this reason, a phased approach is seen as the most practical and realistic way of moving ahead.  Accordingly the Optional Protocol is not being ratified at this time.

The matter of opting into the Optional Protocol will be reviewed and further considered following completion of the first reporting cycle under the Convention.  Due to the variability and uncertainty of the reporting cycle it is not possible to give an exact date at this juncture.

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