Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
633. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the timeframe for the ratification of the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32286/22]
Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on 20 March 2018. This marked an important milestone in a process to strengthen the rights of people with disabilities in Ireland that has gathered momentum since Ireland became a signatory to the Convention in 2007.
Ireland's approach to meeting the obligations of the UNCRPD is one of progressive realisation - each year moving forward on key reforms, with the obligations arising from the Convention being met over time. Initial priority has been given to meeting legislative commitments and requirements.
I recognise the importance of the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD. As the Deputy will be aware, the Optional Protocol is an international treaty that establishes procedures aimed at strengthening the implementation and monitoring of the Convention. Ratification of the Optional Protocol is a commitment in the Programme for Government, following the State's first review period before the UN Committee.
Due to delays at UN level, Ireland’s appearance before the Committee will be delayed, possibly for some time. In light of this, both Minister O'Gorman and I have indicated that we are open to earlier ratification, contingent on the State being in a position to meet its obligations thereunder. This is reflective of the State’s long-standing approach to entering into binding international obligations in good faith, and at a point where the State is in a position to meet its obligations.
In that regard, we know that commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 is required before ratification can occur, and for closer alignment with Article 12 of the Convention. It is intended that this important legal reform will be in place once the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill is passed into law.
Alongside that, ratification of the Optional Protocol requires a comprehensive review of existing domestic remedies for breaches of the Convention in order to ensure the State can meet the obligations arising from the Optional Protocol. My Department is currently in the process of examining the requirements for ratification, and my officials have had engagement with our internal legal advisors on the steps required. This work is being progressed as part of the development of the UNCRPD Implementation Plan.