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Human Rights, News, Uncategorized

Press Release from Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth 

(Published on

An easy to read version of this press release is available here.

Watch Minister Rabbitte’s launch video here.

Ireland has signed up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Ireland now has to make sure that it consults with and involves people with disabilities when making policy and law that has an effect on them.

To make sure that this happens, the Government has decided to set up a new group, called the Disability Participation and Consultation Network.

The Network will make sure that people with disabilities will be heard directly when the Government makes important decisions.

The Disability Participation and Consultation Network will make sure people with a disability will be involved in the development of policy and legislation.

  • Following a process to find organisations to receive funding to help run the Network, this call is now being run to find interested people with disabilities, Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) and disability organisations to become Members of the Network.

    Members will take part in the running of the Network and be central to its work of gathering and representing the views of people with disabilities and making sure that those views are heard in the development of policy and legislation.

    • Consultation on Ireland’s Initial State Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an immediate task for the Network.

    • The Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Ms Anne Rabbitte T.D. today invited interested parties to apply to become members of Ireland’s Disability Participation and Consultation Network.


Having selected organisations to be funded to help run the Network, individual people with disabilities, DPOs and representative organisations are now being invited to become members of the Network.

Members will be an important part of the Network and its job of ensuring that people with disabilities are involved in the development of policy and law, in line with the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

People with disabilities and organisations from all backgrounds and experiences are invited to apply to become a Member. Although Membership places are limited there will still be chances to get involved with the Network when it begins its work.

Further details of the Network, the role of Members and details of how to apply are available on the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth website here.

The deadline for receipt of applications is 11am on Friday, 27 November 2020.

Announcing this invitation for expressions of interest, Minister Rabbitte said:

“Members of the Participation and Consultation Network will be central to the work of ensuring that people with a disability will be heard directly and be engaged with meaningfully when legislation and policy is being formulated.

“Since taking office, it’s been my imperative to hear firsthand the experiences of people with disabilities and how their lives have been impacted. Such engagements are crucial, and this lived experience can shape policy and legislation in a real way, ensuring a more inclusive and integrated approach to how we develop policies into the future.

“I would invite individuals with disabilities, Disabled Person’s Organisations and disability organisations representing the wide range of disability experiences in Ireland to apply. Training and support will be provided by the Network and, in particular, I hope that people who may normally be distanced from, or who have not felt the opportunity to be involved in similar activities, will look to become involved.”


Human Rights, News, Uncategorized
The Joint Committee on Disability Matters invites written submissions from interested groups or individuals to hear about the lived experience of people with disabilities on the issues that affect them and their families and/or carers. These submissions will assist the Committee in what they need to focus on in their role as a Committee and their future work.


The Committee was set up to consider all disability matters including monitoring the implementation (by Ireland) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), but the Committee is also tasked with developing its own Terms of Reference, which will guide the work for the Committee for the rest of its term.

As it is important to the Committee to involve people with disabilities in a more meaningful way in the development of policy and legislation, the Committee would like to hear from people on their lived experience and what they feel needs to be included in the Committees Terms of Reference.

The submissions received will inform the Committees Terms of Reference so that the Committee can work to not only meet the needs of people with disabilities in Ireland, but deliver on the systematic change that the UNCRPD demands and ensure that this Convention becomes a reality in the daily lives of people with disabilities. The Committee will strive to ensure the systematic change needed, that will not only ensure that people with disabilities are integrated effectively into society, but that society can also continue to integrate into the lives of people with disabilities.

The UNCRPD aims at enabling this systematic change and social development across multiple areas of society by ensuring that people must not be treated differently or unfairly because of their disability. It also outlines what countries need to do to make sure that people who have disabilities have the same rights as everyone else. Please find further details on the UNCRPD here.

Please note that this is an initial consultation, and your submission will help inform the Committees Terms of Reference and the Committee may decide to invite a number of contributors to public hearings, should it be considered necessary. The Committee will continue to engage with stakeholders throughout the remit of the Committee and hear about the lived experience of people with disabilities on the issues that affect them and their families and/or carers.

Closing date

The closing date for receipt of submissions is 3pm on Monday, 9 November 2020.

How to send your submission

Please email an electronic document (searchable PDF or equivalent) to

Please do not send hard copies of your submission, as this may cause confusion and duplication.

Please do not send your submission to individual committee members. The Clerk will ensure all members receive copies of all submissions.

What to include in your submission

Your submission should comprise the submission document and a separate covering letter. This allows the Committee to publish your submission without your contact details.

In the covering letter, please include:
– your name, email address and contact telephone number
– if the submission is on behalf of an organisation, your position in the organisation
  • – a brief outline of why you are making the submission
  • – an indication of whether you would be willing to appear in public session at a committee meeting
In the submission document, please include:
  • a brief introduction, for example, explaining your area of expertise
  • any factual information that you have to offer from which the committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other parties for their reactions
  • links to any publications you refer to; there is no need to send such publications as attachments any recommendations to the committee; be as specific as possible and summarise your recommendations at the end of the document if your document is more than 10 pages long, an executive summary of the main points made in the submission

Tips on writing your submission

Keep your submission concise and to the point. Please do not include any unnecessary or superfluous material that does not relate directly to the topic.

If you refer to other publications, include links to the publications. There is no need to send them as attachments.

Please remember to number your pages.

If you would like more detailed guidance on writing your submission, please contact the Clerk to the Committee, Regina Boyle.

Important information

  • The Committee cannot consider submissions which deal with matters outside its remit.
  • The Committee cannot consider submissions which deal with individual cases.
  • Submissions sent to any other email address may not be accepted.
  • Anonymous submissions cannot be accepted and will be rejected.
  • Petitions and form letters may not be accepted or published.
  • Submissions made to a Committee may be published as received, either as part of a Committee report or separately, if the Committee decides to do so.


Making a submission is a public process

The Committee is not obliged to accept your document once it has been submitted, nor is it obliged to publish any or all of the submission if it has been accepted. However, the operations of a parliament are a public process, and you should be aware that any submissions made to a Committee including your identity may be published either as part of a Committee report, or separately, if the Committee decides to do so.


Before making your submission, please read our privacy statement.


Clerk to the Committee:
Regina Boyle
(01) 618 3575


Human Rights, Uncategorized

We’ve made such progress in ending discrimination in Ireland in recent years. But still, there is one group of people left out. All these years later, disability live still don’t matter.

Original article from the Irish Examiner posted 28 July 2020

by Fergus Finlay

Disability Lives Matter. I wonder how that would work as a slogan? Would anyone, I wonder, be offended, the way some people are when they hear the phrase Black Lives Matter?

You hear it again and again, don’t you, the question ‘why are you singling out black people?’ What about the fact that all lives matter? What about women, what about children, what about people of a different colour? What about, what about, what about?

All the same conditions apply — the neglect, the discrimination, the injustice, and yes — the cruelty. 

If you don’t believe me on the subject of cruelty, stop for a minute and ask yourself why, years later, we are still ‘investigating’ (without a result) what happened to Grace, a young woman who was sexually abused for many years while she was the ‘responsibility’ of the State.

There’s a great irony here. While the notion of Black Lives Matter is still contested in the US, disability lives have been changed for the better by law in that jurisdiction. 

And that law, the Americans With Disabilities Act, came into being because people with disabilities refused to settle for less.

You can read a fascinating current series in The New York Times, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Or, if you have access to Netflix, do yourselves a favour and watch a movie called Crip Camp

It’s about a group of young people who came together, around the time of the legendary Woodstock festival, at a ‘camp for the handicapped’ as it was called then. 

The name of the camp was Camp Jened. They discovered all the things that young people were discovering in those days — sex and drugs and rock and roll, basically. 

But they also discovered equality. Many of the young people, who had conditions like cerebral palsy, polio, and spina bifida, had never met anyone like themselves before. 


It’s a modern word, whataboutery. It’s not in my edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (which dates from 1990). It basically means I’m going to undermine your argument by saying you’re just a hypocrite if you don’t accept that all lives matter as much as black lives.

Of course, the real hypocrites are the whatabouters. The thing they refuse to accept is that black lives matter because they haven’t mattered in the past. The age of slavery may be gone, but racism based on skin colour is alive and well.

Black Lives Matter is important as a phrase, not because other lives don’t matter, but because black lives have been the repository of a history of cruelty, neglect, injustice, and discrimination. 

It’s important as a call to arms because nothing will change unless attitudes change. 

It’s important as a statement of public policy because racism has become so embedded, so institutionalised, that it’s often impervious to the established law.

So I don’t want to be accused of whataboutery — because I believe absolutely in the importance of Black Lives Matter — when I say that I think the time has come to begin to loudly proclaim that Disability Lives Matter.

The discovery that they weren’t alone, and weren’t to be pitied, was transformative.

More than 10 years after they met in that camp, many of the people involved led a major sit-in of a Federal Building, and subsequently a march on Washington, to demand the signing of a single regulation, known as 504, that would ban discrimination against people with a disability in any federally-funded activity.

Later still, and in one of the most powerful scenes from the movie, the activists got out of their wheelchairs and crawled, step by painful step, up the approach to the Capitol Building. 

They wanted to symbolise its inaccessibility and to dramatise their demand for what became the Americans With Disability Act. 

The Capitol Crawl went into history because it fundamentally changed the dynamic and forced people with disabilities to be listened to.

It was disability activists who led that charge. And particularly a young woman called Judy Heumann, then a survivor of polio and now a world leader of the disability movement.

Judy Heumann still says that she sometimes has difficulty understanding why she is supposed to be grateful that she can have access to a disabled toilet. It’s a sentiment that many people with a disability in Ireland — and their families — could echo. 

One of the defining features of the provision of services for people with a disability here is the notion that they should be grateful for what they get.

There was a Capitol Crawl moment in Ireland. Ten years after the American Disabilities Act, the Irish government — as the Celtic Tiger was getting into full swing — decided that maybe Ireland should do something. 

So they produced a Bill, the Disabilities Bill 2001 — which they announced would ‘transform Ireland’, and finally give people with disabilities in Ireland some legal rights.

It was perhaps the phoniest claim ever made about a piece of law. The bill was 54 pages long. The word ‘right’ wasn’t contained in it anywhere. 

It did impose some obligations on public bodies around issues like accessibility. Every obligation in the Act was qualified by language like ‘as much as practicable’ and ‘if resources permit’. 

And right at the end, there was an article — section 47 — which said, in the most explicit terms possible, that the State could never be sued if it failed to carry out any of its obligations under the bill.

That piece of legislation, as phoney as it was, almost caused a revolution. A major meeting was hastily organised for the Mansion House under the slogan ‘No Rights — No Bill’, to try to prevent the bill being introduced in that form. 

Despite the fact that it was an awful night — February 19, 2001 — hundreds of people turned up to protest in appalling conditions. 

As one of them said from the floor — “Yes, we have disabilities. But why does that give the government the right to think we’re stupid?” That meeting could have been a turning point. 

The phoney Bill was withdrawn, the minister responsible for it, Mary Wallace, effectively lost her job, and Bertie Ahern instituted a ‘consultative process’ to draw up a new Bill.

It turned out to be just as phoney as the legislation. When the movement was worn out by the consultation process (actually a very long bullying process), the old Bill was replaced by a new Bill, which contained every qualification that had been in the old one — the only thing missing was the hated Section 47.

But the result was — and still is — that the only ‘right’ people with a disability have is the right to an assessment of their needs, and to get a statement setting out what those needs are. 

They have no right whatsoever to have any of those needs met. 

And to this day, even when people get their assessments, usually after an endless delay, they are basically told how meaningless they are.

It’s a great lost opportunity. The great unfought civil rights campaign. We’ve made such progress in ending discrimination in Ireland in recent years.

But still, there is one group of people left out. All these years later, disability lives still don’t matter.


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