Today is UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In our latest guest blog, Jim Winters, Advocacy and Rights Officer with Inclusion Ireland, reflects on the situation of disabled people in Ireland.
If you are a disabled woman, you are twice as likely to experience sexual violence as a non-disabled woman.
If you are a mother with an intellectual disability, you are far more likely to have your children removed by the State.
As a disabled victim of a crime, you face significantly more barriers to access justice. You could be one of thousands of disabled people in Ireland denied the right to make decisions about your health, to marry or to leave the country.
You could be one of the several thousand disabled people in Ireland denied equality before the law.
You could be legally defined as a lunatic, a person of unsound mind or a mentally impaired person.
If you are a disabled person in a consensual sexual relationship, you could be charged with a criminal offence under Irish law.
As a disabled person in Ireland, you are twice as likely to experience deprivation. It is very expensive to have a disability: it is estimated to represent 35 per cent of disposable income.
You could be one of the 30 per cent of disabled people of working age to have a job. Then again, you might be working in a sheltered workshop, without pay or employment rights.
You could be one of over 3,500 disabled people that continue to live in large institutions, segregated from mainstream society. You might live in a residential centre that is non-compliant with basic standards of care. If you do live in residential care, you are likely to have little choice over where or with whom you live. Your personal finances are likely to be controlled by the service-provider.
As a disabled person, you’re likely to rely on public transport. But the government decision to close transport support schemes means you’re stuck at home.
You could be the parent of one of over 20,000 disabled children on waiting lists for speech and language therapy. You could be the parent who has to choose between heating your home or paying for therapy for your child. Your disabled child may not be able to attend pre-school with other children because the HSE does not provide support in these settings.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) recognises that disability “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and the environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society.”
This international human rights treaty, of which Ireland is a signatory, reaffirms disabled persons as rights-holders with entitlements, and governments as duty-bearers with obligations.
Today, on UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, it is a good time to ask why Ireland is one of only three EU member states yet to ratify the UN Convention.
Inclusion Ireland is the national association for people with intellectual disability in Ireland.