Oireachtas committee backs ‘right to independent living’ in Irish law

Oireachtas committee backs 'right to independent living' in Irish law

A right to independent living should be incorporated into Irish law in order to ensure that disabled people can live “ordinary lives in ordinary places”, an Oireachtas committee has recommended.

A new report from the Oireachtas joint committee on disability matters issues a number of recommendations following nearly two years of work which included engagements with disabled people and stakeholder groups.

Its recommendations include the immediate ratification of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in order to enable more meaningful involvement of disabled people in issues that affect their lives.

Michael Moynihan, cathaoirleach of the committee, said: “The State’s consistent delays in ratifying and reporting on the UNCRPD, as well as the current delay with ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, cause the committee concern because the delay ensures that people with disabilities are excluded from the benefits of the oversight monitoring by the UN committee.

“Over the decades the policy response to supporting people with disabilities in Ireland has reflected the medical model of disability, where individuals were segregated in congregated settings which were inappropriate for them, and which led to a lower quality of life and isolation. This response prevails today as people with disabilities continue to be placed inappropriately in congregated settings.

“To ensure independent living and inclusion in communities, we must meaningfully consult with people with disabilities and their representative organisations, regarding decisions that affect their lives. This is crucial in the design of policies, programmes and in the planning process.”

He added: “This transformation also cannot begin without tackling the consistent poverty which is the experience of many people with disabilities in Ireland, considering the cost of disability is not reflected in social protection design or supports, and there are significant barriers to education and employment.

“This poverty cycle sustains the medical model of disability and the culture of people with disabilities being viewed as not capable of contributing to society.”

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