Committee on Disability Matters launches report on participation of people with disabilities in political, cultural, community and public life

October 12 2022, 09:56am


The Joint Committee on Disability Matters published its report on Participation of People with Disabilities in Political, Cultural, Community and Public Life on Tuesday 11 October 2022. The report outlines a number of recommendations and observations with the aim of enriching the lives of people with disabilities. 

Ireland ratified the UNCRPD in 2018 which uses a social and complementary human rights model of disability requiring a cultural shift, from treating people with disabilities based on their impairment, to instead, viewing them as citizens, with abilities and strengths, capable of independent thinking and living, and contributing to society.

People with disabilities had a significant role in developing it, and it acts as a roadmap which can help Ireland become a better place for people with disabilities to live in.

This report examines inclusion and participation in political, cultural, community and public life, and the role of Active Citizenship regarding people with disabilities in society.

The report makes a number of recommendations – some of which are included below:

- The Electoral Commission be mandated to include the promotion, inclusion, facilitation, and participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral and political process

- The Government must strengthen the application of Universal Design principals across the public service by introducing targets to ensure full compliance with Universal Design across all services, schemes and structures in consultation with DPO’s and the NDA.
- The Committee continue to recommend that the Government must ensure that the process of placing people in congregated settings is eliminated.
- The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Department of Rural and Community Development, the County and City Management Association and all Local Authorities must work together to develop Local Area Coordination, social planning and the community development approach in conjunction with DPOs and Disability Service Providers and all other relevant local actors to strengthen the provision of inclusive community-based supports in line with the UNCRPD.

- The Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Rural and Community Development must ensure consultation with people with disabilities and their DPOs in all future iterations of the Climate Action Plan.

- The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth must strengthen implementation of the Irish Sign Language Act 2017 and mainstreaming of Irish Sign Language as an official language of Ireland.

- The National Disability Sport Forum must consult with DPOs and include more DPOs in their representation. All clubs and organisations must be encouraged and incentivised to join CARA Sports Inclusion Disability Charter and the clubs must be resourced to implement the charter positively along with training and education for clubs including disability inclusion training and autism in sport training.

- Sporting organisations for people with disabilities must be developed to ensure inclusion of events in mainstream programming along with ISL interpretation and supports to raise awareness including additional measures to celebrate athletes’ achievements at games.

Launching the report, Committee Cathaoirleach Deputy Michael Moynihan said: “We cannot begin to speak about the consultation and participation of people with disabilities in local communities and society until we treat people with disabilities with presumed capacity, capable of independent thinking and living, and contributing to society. We need to build on the long-held strength and large culture of community in Ireland to realise social inclusion for people with disabilities. We must also build on the work undertaken by Local Authorities and continue to improve local coordination, to allow all applicable actors to work together to support people with disabilities to access and participate in their community.”

This requires a cultural shift which will be enhanced with the commencement of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 under which a person is by default, presumed to have capacity. This cultural shift will be further enabled through a standardised roll out of disability awareness training in line with presumed capacity and in full consultation with Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs).

Progressing full accessibility and inclusion in local communities will subsequently deliver inclusive democracy and Active Citizenship for people with disabilities. The Committee believe that people with disabilities must be meaningfully consulted regarding decisions that affect their lives, as per Article 4(3) of the UNCRPD. This can only begin when the voting system in Ireland is fully accessible to people with disabilities,” he concluded.

The Committee issued a public consultation in October 2020, regarding the lived experience of people with disabilities on the issues that affect them, their families and their carers.
The Committee values lived experience. Witnesses highlighted that people with disabilities navigate the world having to constantly problem solve and innovate and so it is important that this quality, expertise, and ability continues to be utilised, and mechanisms are developed and supported to enable meaningful consultation.

Clcik here to read the report in full.