20 December 2016
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD and the Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath TD, today announced that they have obtained Government approval for publication of the Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016. The primary purpose of the Bill is to address the remaining legislative barriers to Ireland’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
Welcoming the Bill the Tánaiste said “Ireland signed the Convention in 2007 and, since then, successive Governments have emphasised Ireland’s commitment to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, however there is also the need to ensure all necessary legislative requirements under the Convention are met. This bill will address those requirements.”
Speaking on the legislative barriers that this Bill addresses, Minister McGrath stated “Considerable progress has already been made to overcoming the barriers to Ireland's ratification of the Convention. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law last year and is a comprehensive reform of the law on decision-making capacity.”
Work is ongoing on all the other issues set out in the previous Government’s Roadmap for Ratification published in October 2015 and these will be progressed as Committee Stage amendments
The Bill will be published in the coming days and will be progressed to enactment at an early date to facilitate ratification of the UN Convention as soon as possible.
Notes to Editors
Amongst the main provisions of the new Bill are:
Amendment of the Juries Act 1976 so that a person who is deaf shall not be ineligible for jury service by reason only of his or her requiring the services of a sign language interpreter. The existing prohibition on a person who has a mental illness or disability, and is receiving medical treatment or is resident in a hospital or similar institution, from serving as a juror is replaced with a functional capacity test which will provide that a person must have the mental and intellectual capacity to serve as a juror.
Amendment of the Electoral Act 1992 to repeal the prohibition on a person of ‘unsound mind’ from standing for election to the Dáil (and thereby removing the disqualifications for membership of the Seanad and for election to the European Parliament also).
National Disability Authority (NDA) and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to have formal roles as part of Ireland’s national monitoring mechanism for the Convention
The UN CRPD provides that reasonable accommodation (i.e. practical help to ensure that the person with a disability can, for example, access a service) be provided for people with disabilities in the areas of employment and provision of services, The Bill will strengthen the rights of people with disabilities in that regard in relation to public services and services provided by commercial bodies whose activities are regulated for quality of service, viz. banks, insurance companies, telecommunications and transport providers, and credit unions.