I have called on the Minister for Health to ratify the UN Convention of Rights for People with Disabilities. Currently Ireland is the only European country to have not ratified the convention.
I had the pleasure of meeting a most amazing, passionate and articulate young woman last week, Niamh Herbert from Sallins, who attended the House with me to request Members of the House to advance the passing of this Bill as expeditiously as possible and, indeed, to ratify the convention. Niamh is a student in Trinity College Dublin and she represents herself, the students’ union in the college and a group called Disability and I”.
Unfortunately, Niamh ended up in difficult situation two or three days later. Unknown to us at the time, she attempted to board a flight to travel to London with friends from college and was told she could not do so. Despite the obvious presence of her wheelchair the flight staff asked her to walk up the steps to the airplane. She was left sitting on the tarmacadam, crying, as the airplane took off without her. Her friends, for financial reasons, had no choice but to board the airplane and go on the journey. This is a horrific, barbaric event to happen to anybody, most of all to somebody vulnerable.
I pleaded with all Members to advance the convention to address these issues so this type of situation does not recur. I was ashamed to see from the map that Niamh included in her presentation last week that the convention has been ratified across Europe and beyond, including by many countries which might be considered to be less progressive than Ireland. Ireland stands alone among European and neighbouring states as yet to do so. Let us not allow what happened to this young lady recur. Let us ratify the convention with as much haste as possible. Let us get it right, but let us do it quickly.
You can view my full Dáil speech on this topic here.