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Question

121. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the Government's plans in respect of the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33757/15]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): I refer the Deputy to previous answers on this issue on 7 July, 19 May, 23 April and 16 April 2015. The Government has given a firm commitment to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and intends to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. As the Deputy is aware, Ireland has a dualist legal system and therefore does not become party to treaties until it is first in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by them, including the amendment of domestic law as necessary. We are determined to take the steps necessary to meet all the Convention's requirements in a constructive, proactive and appropriate manner. I should stress that for Ireland, ratification is the end of the preparation and implementation phase, not the beginning.
A team within my Department has been charged with examining all outstanding obstacles to ratification, and has nearly completed the first phase of its work, which includes identifying all areas which will need attention to make ratification possible. My Department chairs the Interdepartmental Committee, which comprises representatives of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Children and Youth Affairs; Finance; Education and Skills; Health; Defence; Environment, Community and Local Government; Public Expenditure and Reform; Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Transport, Tourism and Sport; Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Social Protection; and the Office of Public Works.
Significant progress towards ratification continues to be made and much has been accomplished. The requirement to enact suitable capacity legislation has long been one of the core obstacles to ratification of the Convention and the progress made in this area is a testament to the Government’s commitment to meeting the obligations of the CRPD in a comprehensive and meaningful way. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 passed Dáil Committee Stage on 17 June 2015 and enactment is expected by the end of the year.
Progress is also being made on necessary reforms to legislation on sexual offences, and by my colleagues, the Minister for Health and the Minister of State for Primary and Social Care, on reforms to mental health legislation. Another key task which is underway involves examining how the important issue of Reasonable Accommodation can be achieved within our Constitutional framework as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Further measures required to enable ratification include amending unsuitable and outmoded language and in some cases, archaic legal provisions, in existing legislation.
The Interdepartmental Committee has agreed on the main areas across Departments where legislative amendment or new legislation will be necessary to meet the requirements of the Convention. These proposals will be contained in a Roadmap to Ratification, which will be submitted to Government shortly. Once approved by Government, we will publish the Roadmap outlining the measures to be taken to overcome all outstanding barriers to ratification of UN CRPD, along with the estimated timescales involved.