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25 Feb 2013


EU Priorities 2020
Social Europe & Jobs

Dublin, 24 February 2013 /// The European Disability Forum (EDF) and the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) call on the Irish Government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the implementation plan for the National Disability Strategy without any further delay.


At the EDF board meeting, which took place on 23-24 February in Dublin, Ireland, hosting over 70 delegates from organisations representing persons with disabilities across Europe, the urgent need for Ireland to ratify the CRPD was considered. They noted the significant progress made by Ireland in adopting a comprehensive disability strategy and its determination to address the CRPD commitments through the implementation of the National Disability Strategy. The imminent publication of a whole of government implementation plan for the disability strategy was also welcomed.


EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis, stressed the urgent need for Ireland to follow the example of most EU member states and ratify the CRPD: ‘Ireland is among the last 3 countries in the EU –together with Finland and the Netherlands- which have not yet ratified the CRPD. Ireland is also among the EU countries that have been most strongly hit by the economic crisis. What we face today in the EU has nothing to do with what we have faced in the past. However, times of crisis are the right time to take action and protect vulnerable categories of citizens, whose rights are threatened. Holding right now the EU Presidency, Ireland should take the opportunity and ratify the CRPD, which is the first international human rights treaty that the EU itself has ratified. This way, it will make a real change in the life of its citizens with disabilities and will leave Finland and the Netherlands close the EU circle’.


John Dolan, CEO of DFI, stated: “The UN Convention on the Rights of People with   Disabilities has been ratified by the vast majority of European States and the European Union itself.  The Irish Presidency of the EU is an ideal time for it to be ratified in Ireland, and we would urge that this happen in tandem with the publication of the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan.  Ireland is now lagging behind our European counterparts in the implementation of this key international human rights agreement  which recognises that people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else to freedom, respect, equality and dignity.”


EDF’s Board had a special focus on understanding article 19 of the CRPD on independent living as a fundamental right for all persons with disabilities: ‘Independent living is not just a legal issue, it is a profound political issue and we need to look into it in connection with the social and political environment that we live in. To be included in the society is the backbone of the CRPD and has to be addressed in connection to all other rights, such as the right to legal capacity or equal recognition before the law, the rights to family life etc. All the austerity measures taken in all countries question and undermine the concept and the practice of independent living and we need to tackle both. We need to make them a real instrument for fighting for the most precious thing we have, to be included in society’, underlined EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis.


John Dolan | DFI Chief Executive officer | | +353 86 7957467

Lila Sylviti | EDF Communications officer | | +32 2 282 46 04


The European Disability Forum is the European umbrella organisation representing the interests of 80 million persons with disabilities in Europe. The mission of EDF is to ensure disabled people full access fundamental and human rights through their active involvement in policy development and implementation in Europe. EDF is a member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and it is currently chairing its governing body.


Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) is the national support organisation for voluntary disability organisations in Ireland who provide services to persons with disabilities and disabling conditions. DFI works to ensure that Irish society is fully inclusive of persons with disabilities and disabling conditions so that they can exercise fully their civil, social and human rights.