DFI response to the Attorney General's Report on Nursing Home Charges and Disabled Maintenance Allowance 

February 8 2023, 07:05pm

DFI Statement

The Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) finds the advice from the Attorney General into the denial of disability payments to be disappointing. It is deeply discouraging that the report takes such a narrow view with no mention or reflection on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), or Ireland’s responsibilities as a signatory to this important international human rights convention.

The purpose of the UN CRPD is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Ireland ratified the UN CRPD in March 2018, and should thus be bound by this commitment. However, it is difficult to find the principles and commitments which Ireland promised to observe and enact in the response by the State in recent days to the findings in the RTE Primetime programme.

DFI is seeking assurances that the UN CRPD will guide and be the foundation of the review being carried out now by the Department of Health and the Department of Social Protection and in any future responses to this issue.

For example, this includes considerations for Articles 12, 13, 21 and 28:

Article 12 of UN CRPD states: Parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.

Article 13 of UN CRPD states: Parties shall ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations.

Article 21 of UN CRPD is very clear on the right to information for disabled people.

Article 28 of UN CRPD states: Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right.

Communication and approaches on this issue in the future must be led by an understanding of the negative effect these revelations, the litigation management strategy adopted by the State and the subsequent review of the approach by the Attorney General has had on disabled people and their families. For example, this should inform how the Department of Social Protection addresses the additional cost of disability as comprehensively evidenced in the Indecon Report on the Cost of Disability in Ireland (2021).

Trust has been broken and this can only be restored by making it clear to disabled people that the State respects, and will act to vindicate and ensure, their rights as equal citizens of the State.