Questions on rights for family carers and their disabled loved ones in Ireland

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Does a family carer have any rights in Ireland? The right to respite? The right to proper, appropriate support? The right to live a life not in constant pain and despair? The right to a career? The right to time away from caring work just as other workers have the right to?

Another question: Does their disabled, young-adult child have the right to progress in their life with the continued assistance by the State and move into an independent living setting outside of the family home, fully supportive of their individual level of disability needs, when they turn 18 years of age?

Answer: No, it seems not, to both questions. Forget the UNCRPD (the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) rights as it doesn’t seem to hold much weight in Ireland.

Now I ask, WHY NOT?

Well, you see, Ireland refuses to sign the Optional Protocol. This is the protocol (agreement) which gives the UNCRPD its teeth. It is what enables a person to file a claim that their rights under the UNCRPD are not being upheld.

Again I ask yet another question…WHY does Ireland refuse to sign up to the Optional Protocol?

In a nutshell, and in my opinion, it is because Ireland has not assured it has the proper services in place to fully, equitably, and suitably support disabled people in our society.

Here is an excerpt from an Irish Examiner article dated 30 May 2021: “Markus Schefer, a member of the UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), said it suggests Ireland is not confident or comfortable enough to open itself up to international scrutiny.” I would encourage you all to read that article hyper-linked above. The fact that “Ireland signed the CRPD in 2007 but the international law, which requires the state to work towards providing full and equal rights to people with disabilities, wasn’t ratified until 2018” says it all.

I don’t have the answers, but I am looking for them as I seek support. Since July, I have been pleading with Brendan Bjorn’s disability team for proper supports but to no avail. I have visited the two residential disability children’s respite centres in County Wexford and neither was suitable for his profound, very complex medical needs. His team should have known this and not wasted anyone’s time and energy in requiring me to view these centres. A quick review on their part of what the centres have and don’t have would have done the trick in literally 60 seconds…no overhead hoists in either centre. End of. Not suitable. And they then could have immediately gone forward in looking outside of the county.

But…no…this is Ireland where it took 11 long years to ratify the UNCRP and where they still refuse to sign the Optional Protocol to give disabled people the legal mechanism to claim their rights are not being met.

And people wonder why Irish carers and the disabled people in our society
so very often despair at the state of things?

Dear Irish government, It is way beyond time for reforms in the disability sector here. Way beyond time.

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