Councillor Danielle Twomey Calls For Disability Rights To Be Enshrined In Irish Law

By Seamus Whelehan


The government is coming under increasing pressure to live up to its agreement to legislate for people with disabilities.
Cork County Council has become one of many local authorities to call on the Minister for Disabilities Fininan McGrath to give the country’s 600,000 registered with a disability a stronger voice in society.
The move comes following the tabling of a motion by Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey at the May sitting of the authority.
After almost a decade signing the UN convention on disabilities, Ireland has yet to endorse it.
By adopting the convention, the government would have to enact laws to improve disability rights.
The agreement allows for the disabled to have a right to proper education, health and work among a series of other positive changes.
In 2015 the government introduced a road map which set out the legislative changes required, but due to a series of road blocks they failed to meet their own deadline.
When the then Minister for Justice Michael McDowell signed the document on behalf of the Irish government in 2007 he said it was a “blue print for a significant improvement.”
172 countries including North Korea have ratified the 192, country agreement.
Ten years on Midleton Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey said it was a “national embarrassment” that people with a disability are still being excluded.
She told the May sitting of Cork County Council by not ratifying the agreement it is “giving the clear message to people with disabilities in Ireland that they are not a priority for the government.”
Independent Cllr June Murphy who backed the motion said “people with disabilities have the right to live their life the same way as everyone else. It shows a serious lack of commitment by the government not to make sure this bill takes the priority it deserves.”
While Independent Cllr Marcia Dalton said “this country is very good at promoting equality as long as it doesn’t cost any money. If investment needs to be put in to give services to people who are less able bodied then it needs to be put in, their rights are the same as everybody else’s.”
East Cork campaigner for people with a disability Liz Maddox said she “failed to see why all parties can’t come together as they did with the marriage equality legislation and push this through.”
She said, it would be a huge boost for Ireland worldwide to be seen to support people with a disability.
“I always thought Fine Gael would be the party to push this trough, they said it would be. We now have a change of leadership, but I’m not sure which one is disability friendly. I would hope they would both unit to get this enacted.”
The Castlemartyr family carers and disability spokesperson said she would also hope disability rights would feature in both Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar’s agenda during their leadership campaign.”