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Question

48. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities; the reason for the lack of progress on disability rights throughout this Government's term in office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42496/15]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): The Government, as the Deputy knows, published a roadmap to Ireland’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 21 October 2015. The roadmap details the legislative changes to be undertaken to enable Ireland to ratify the convention, along with the estimated timeframe involved and a clear and unambiguous deadline for ratification by the end of 2016. As announced, the Government has inter alia approved the drafting of the equality/disability (miscellaneous provisions) Bill to make a range of miscellaneous amendments to statute law necessary to enable ratification. Work on the general scheme of this Bill is underway, with a view to submission to Government very soon.
The Deputy will also be aware that we recently published a comprehensive employment strategy for people with disabilities and that we are at phase 2 of a three phase consultation process that will lead early in the New Year to the adoption of a new disability inclusion strategy. I am committed to continuous improvement where equality and human rights are concerned and the development of this new strategy is an opportunity to bring about real improvements for people with disabilities.
While clearly there is a substantial legislative agenda across a number of Departments to get through, as set out in the roadmap, and a lot of work to be done to prepare a new inclusion strategy that can have a real and measurable impact, I can assure Deputy Mac Lochlainn and the House that we have the drive and enthusiasm to get it done. I am glad that ratification of the convention is a common goal. All political parties support ratification and I am pleased that the Deputy put this issue on the agenda for discussion today.
Civil society groups and stakeholders are also keen to see the convention ratified. Equality is about creating the circumstances that ensure that every individual has equal access to the enjoyment of their rights, with employment playing a central role in that regard. We will maintain the momentum on ratification of the convention, as set out in the roadmap, to make sure that the rights of all persons with disabilities will be protected in our laws.