30th March 2017 Ratify the UNCRPD Protest








Thursday, March 30th 2017 marks ten years to the day since Ireland promised to fully adopt a key international agreement around disability rights. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is an International Agreement directed at changing attitudes and approaches to people with disabilities.

Cork woman Joanne O’Riordan, a leading disability activist who was born without limbs owing to an extremely rare condition called Total-Amelia Syndrome, will lead a protest comprising 100 disability groups outside Leinster House today on Thursday, 30th March to call for its urgent ratification to guarantee and protect the rights of the more than 600,000 people living with disabilities in Ireland.

The convention ensures that people with disabilities have the right to be consulted about their own welfare. Introducing laws in line with the convention would also mean people active rather than passive participants in their own care.

Today, Ireland is the last EU member state where the treaty remains to be ratified and has watched 163 countries worldwide ratify it, while we have failed to do so.

Today’s protest gives a clear signal to Government that this is no longer acceptable. As a nation Ireland can’t continue to postpone the rights of more than 600,000 people with disabilities living in Ireland. Action is needed now to create a better Ireland that fully respects and accommodates the rights of people with disabilities. A country that makes equality the policy.

By not ratifying the UNCRPD, the only statement Ireland is making internationally is that the rights of people with disabilities simply aren’t a priority. Ratification won’t change people’s lives overnight but it would be a clear statement by the people of Ireland that people with disabilities have equal rights with all other citizens and that they are fully respected just like everyone else.

Speaking in advance of the protest, Joanne O’Riordan said: “The 30th March 2017 marks ten years since Ireland promised and failed to ratify the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities. As a person living with a disability in Ireland I find this unbelievable. This Convention will help to improve the lives of people with disabilities and I’m calling on the Government and members of the Oireachtas to act now to ratify it.

“This protest is just the start. Over the next few months a number of events and actions will take place to bring greater awareness to the barriers that people with disabilities face on a daily basis. Together, we want Ireland to become a far better country to live in if you have a disability” 

Elaine Howley, from NCBI, said, “Those of us who live with disability (in my case vision impairment) are tired of waiting for Ireland to recognise, through actions rather than words, that we are citizens with the same rights as everyone else -to a life based on choice, to an education, to employment to enabling supports that are appropriate and timely, to public transport that can be relied upon, to accessible streets, to a private vote, to live in the home of our choice and to access material in the formats we require. Fundamentally, we have a right to be included and to participate in civil society on the same basis as all other citizens. Ten years ago the Irish Government signed up the CRPD - ten years later we are still waiting for them to take the next step - we cannot and will not wait any longer”

Speaking before the protest, Linda Ahern, disability campaigner and chairperson of the Central Remedial Clinic's service user council, said "I was born with rights but my disability took them away. Now I want them back."


Paul Alford, Inclusion Ireland Self-Advocate said, “People with intellectual disabilities can have difficulty in accessing their right to education, to work, to have a family and to live where they want. The UN Convention matters because it means that our rights will be taken seriously and we will be able to enjoy all the things that other people take for granted.”


For more information please contact:

Steven O’Riordan: 087-4682789

Michelle Merrigan: 087-180 3976

Sonya Felton: 086-8359706

Notes for Editor

This protest is being led by more than 100 disability groups including lead organisations Central Remedial Clinic, Down Syndrome Ireland, Dublin Centre for Independent Living, Irish Wheelchair Association, NCBI, Rehab Group, Special Needs Parents Association, Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland, Union of Students in Ireland, UCD Students Union.

The Convention covers all human rights for people with disabilities such as the right to:

o             accessible buildings, transport and information

o             access justice

o             liberty and security of person

o             live and be included in the  community

o             choose where I live and who I live with

o             the supports I need to live in the community

o             have your say, to express my opinion

o             privacy

o             marry and have a family

o             have children

o             education

o             learn life and social skills

o             the best possible standard of health,

o             work, to earn a living in a job I choose

o             an adequate standard of living

o             social housing on an equal basis with others

o             fully participate in political and public life just like everyone else

o             take part in cultural life

o             have the opportunity to develop my creative, artistic and intellectual potential take part in sport, recreation and leisure.