Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
223. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality when the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be ratified, in view of the fact that 3 December 2017 marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51956/17]
Ireland signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and since then, successive Governments have emphasised Ireland’s strong commitment to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. This Government remains committed to ratification of the Convention.
It is essential that the State is in a position to meet the obligations that it assumes under the terms of an international agreement from the moment of its entry into force for Ireland. Before the State can ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, enactment of new legislation and amendment of existing legislation is required to ensure obligations will be met upon entry into force for Ireland. Ratification of a Convention before we have amended domestic legislation that contradicts it makes no sense and does nothing to ensure compliance or to protect the people for whose benefit the Convention exists. The previous Government published a Roadmap in October 2015, which sets out the legislative measures needed to meet those requirements, along with declarations and reservations to be entered by Ireland on ratification.
Considerable progress has already been made to overcome the remaining legislative barriers to Ireland's ratification of the Convention. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law on 30 December 2015 and is a comprehensive reform of the law on decision-making capacity. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 has reformed Section 5 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 to facilitate the full participation in family life of persons with intellectual disabilities and the full expression of their human rights.
The Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 was published immediately prior to Christmas and completed Second Stage in February 2017. The primary purpose of the Bill is to address the remaining legislative barriers to Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
The precise timing of ratification now depends on how long it will take for the Bill to progress through the enactment process and on issues in relation to commencement both of deprivation of liberty provisions, and of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015.
The consultation, the appointment of a Director to lead the Decision Support Service, the provision of €3m in funding in Budget 2018 for the new Service and the progression of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill to enactment are all important steps that will facilitate ratification of the UN Convention as soon as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to assure the Deputy that ratification of the UNCRPD remains a very high priority for me as Minister.