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United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

08 November 2007

Senator Ivana Bacik: Will the Deputy Leader convene a debate on Irish Aid and development programmes, specifically on the need to mainstream disability rights in development programmes? I have just come from a seminar on disability and development being run by the Centre for Global Health at Trinity College Dublin in conjunction with Dóchas and Irish Aid. In the year in which Ireland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — it has still not been ratified — it would be timely for the House to debate the importance of placing the rights of people with disabilities centre stage in our development programmes. Irish Aid had done a good deal of work on this issue but Ireland is required, under Article 32 of the convention, to promote disability awareness in our international co-operation programmes.

It is very important we meet this requirement, especially in light of the report published yesterday by the Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency which found that almost half of child care providers in Dublin do not include disabled children in their services. Even at home, we are falling short of providing for the rights of children with disabiities. On an international stage, it has been estimated that only 2% of disabled children in developing countries receive any education. It is critical, therefore, that we address disability issues in development aid and Irish Aid programmes. I echo the call made by Senator Ormonde yesterday that the House debate Irish Aid and ask that such a debate include the issue of disability.

I support Senator Alex White's comments on the rights of undocumented persons living here and those who have experienced difficulties in the area of family reunification. I raised this issue last week. The Refugee Information Service produced a report showing the difficulty experienced by those with refugee status who seek to bring family members, dependants and children to Ireland from their home countries. We treat these people, who have secured refugee status and been through persecution in their home countries, appallingly badly by preventing them from bringing their families to Ireland.