Persons with disabilities waiting eight years for Irish Government to ratify the CRPD

30th March 2015

Persons with disabilities waiting eight years for Irish Government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The CRPD affects 595,335 people in Ireland.

Inclusion Ireland and other leading organisations call on the Government to replace the Lunacy Act 1871.

Monday, March 30th 2015 marks the eight-year anniversary of Ireland signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – but persons with disabilities and their families are still waiting for the Government to make the CRPD a part of Irish law.

The CRPD is an International Agreement directed at changing attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities and Ireland was one of the first EU member states to sign the CRPD when it was opened for signature on March 30, 2007.

Ireland has fallen behind our counterparts in the European Union in relation to the CRPD with our nearest neighbours the United Kingdom ratifying the agreement as far back as 2009.

Ireland remains one of only three EU states not to ratify the CRPD, with the others being the Netherlands and Finland.

Ireland is currently on a par with North Korea, Egypt and Ethiopia in not ratifying the CRPD.

However, countries such as Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Burkina Faso have all ratified the CRPD.

Ireland’s Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 is at odds with the CRPD’s Article 12 on equal recognition in law.

The Lunacy Act refers to people as ‘idiot’, ‘lunatic’ and ‘unsound mind’ and there are currently over two and a half thousand people in Ireland who are Wards of Court on account of age, intellectual disability, mental illness or brain injury.

The current Government committed to introducing modern capacity legislation in line with the CRPD in their Programme for Government in 2011.

However, we now face a race against time to enact the 2013 Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill before the next General Election.

Inclusion Ireland – with the support of Age Action, the Centre for Independent Living, Down Syndrome Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland, the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland – is currently circulating a ‘Fool Me Once’ petition which calls on the Government to replace the Lunacy Act.

Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly said:

“The Lunacy Act 1871 terms people with an intellectual disability, those with mental health problems and older people with dementia, as ‘lunatics’ and facilitates a system that takes away a person’s right to make their own decisions about their lives. This system condemns people to a status of non-citizen.

“We want to move away from the paternalistic stance of looking after what we decide are people’s ‘best interests’, and move towards recognising a person’s right to make decisions about their own lives, and to enable them to be supported to make decisions.

“This legislation would remove the final impediment this Government says exists to ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which we signed up to eight years ago.

“Inclusion Ireland is calling on the Government to repeal the Lunacy Act and to also introduce the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill without further delay. This legislation was a key promise in the Programme for Government and it now looks like it won’t be delivered by this Government.”

The ‘Fool Me Once’ petition can be obtained through following this link: www.ipetitions.com/petition/replace-the-lunacy-act

For more information on the Lunacy Act 1871, the ‘Fool Me Once’ petition and an Easy-to-Read version of the petition please follow this link: www.inclusionireland.ie/content/page/replace-lunacy-act-1871-fool-me-once-petition

Use the following link for full information on the Convention and Optional Protocol Signatures and Ratifications of the CRPD.
www.un.org/disabilities/countries.asp?navid=17&pid=166

Note to the editor:
Inclusion Ireland is the national association for people with an intellectual disability. We provide a central forum for our members to identify priorities and formulate nationally agreed policies to present to government, statutory bodies, other relevant groups as well as the general public. Inclusion Ireland campaigns for changes in services and legislation that will improve the quality of life and participation of people with an intellectual disability in Irish society.

For more information, please go to www.inclusionireland.ie or phone (01) 855 9891.