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Charities unite in call for ratification of critical disability convention as one in seven people continue to live with discrimination



EXPLORER Mark Pollock joined campaigners from Rehab Group and a number of prominent disability charities today, to urge the Government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Ireland first signed the UN CRPD a decade ago, in March 2007, but have as yet not made it legally binding by failing to ratify it. Ireland is the only country in Europe not to ratify this vital international agreement, which would afford people with disabilities the same basic human rights as everyone else.

Ireland is also currently on a par with North Korea, Egypt and Ethiopia in not ratifying the CRPD.

Failure to ratify is preventing people from enjoying the everyday freedoms that people without disabilities take for granted, such as the right to choose where to live, the right to appropriate supports to achieve an education and employment, the right to engage in a sexual relationship. This means one in seven of us are continuing to live with discrimination.

It also means that Ireland is on a par with countries which such poor human rights records as North Korea and Ethiopia by failing to ratify this international agreement.

Campaigners from Rehab Group, Down Syndrome Ireland, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, National Council for the Blind Ireland, Irish Wheelchair Association and adventurer Mark Pollock, the first blind man to reach the North Pole, came together to launch the campaign to ratify the CRPD today.

Director of Communications and Public Affairs with Rehab Group, Kathleen O’Meara said: “Our continued failure to priortise this critical human rights treaty means people with disabilities are being treated like second or even third class citizen. One in seven of us is living with a disability yet Ireland is the last country in Europe still to ratify this critical treaty. The current reality for many people with disabilities living in institutions or languishing in unsuitable settings means they have no such right to choose and remain invisible when it comes to policy and service provision.”

South Pole Adventurer Mark Pollock said: “I cannot see any reason why people with disabilities should not have the same human rights as everyone else. This treaty would go a long way to ensure people with disabilities are afforded equal human rights by guaranteeing us our rights rather than leaving them as optional for others to decide.'

Pat Clarke, CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland: “Ireland’s failure to ratify the CRPD is a damning indictment on how people with disabilities are regarded in this country and is deeply troubling for people who are everyday excluded from decisions on the most critical aspects of their lives. It’s time to ratify the CRPD now.”

Tina Leonard, Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs with The Alzheimer Society of Ireland said: “The legal right of everyone to make decisions for themselves is contained in the Convention, meaning that people with dementia have exactly the same decision-making rights as the rest of us. It’s time people with dementia stopped being treated like second-class citizens.”

Director of Policy and Advocacy with the National Council for the Blind Ireland, Elaine Howley said: “Internationally the lived experience and expectations of people with disabilities are rapidly changing. The world is moving towards recognition of a rights-based approach where people are enabled to make choices about their own lives and avail of opportunities as others do. Ireland needs to take this on board and ratify the UNCRPD in line with its commitment to do so in 2016.”

CEO Irish Wheelchair Association, Rosemary Keogh said: “IWA’s focus is on people – ordinary people who want to live their lives alongside their friends, families and communities. Not separate. Not isolated. Not excluded. The ratification of the UNCRPD will ensure that the human rights of people with disabilities are honoured and protected and will breakdown existing barriers and unlock immense potential.”

Rehab is asking members of the public to sign a petition to ratify CRPD which you can find here:

ENDS

For additional information, please contact:

Edel O’Connell – 0861674741 / edel.oconnell@rehab.ie

Martin Grant –0877118225 / martin.grant@rehab.ie

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