Bringing Disability Rights Home: Realising the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland

Austin Burns, CILNI Information Officer recently attended the Bringing Disability Rights Home: Realising the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland conference in Stormont on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 on behalf of the Centre for Independent Living NI. The event focussed on the contents of a report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and particularly on the concerns the Committee have with the levels of protection offered to people with disabilities in Northern Ireland.

The event focussed on the contents of a report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and particularly on the concerns the Committee have with the levels of protection offered to people with disabilities in Northern Ireland. 

As part and parcel of the conference, a number of other speakers were present in order to offer a variety of different perspectives on the UNCRPD report and its findings. Bernie Rooney, the Director of Social Inclusion Policy Division within the Department for Communities, gave a talk about the Programme for Government. She told the conference that the Department has looked at the concluding observations against the draft Programme for Government plan and have strengthened the plan on that basis. In addition new advisory groups have been introduced. She also stated that the Department will now enhance its data collection to improve the statistics available and that the Northern Ireland Executive (when it comes back) will look at how to implement changes suggested by the UNCRPD.

To present the perspectives of disabled people led organisations David McDonald, the Chair of the Omnibus Partnership, and other speakers spoke at the conference. David highlighted the work of IMTAC NI, a Committee of disabled people and older people that advises Government in Northern Ireland on travel and transport issues. He used that example to explain the importance of allowing disabled and older people to have a voice in shaping policy. According to David, ‘unless we start listening to and involving disabled people – Nothing will change.’

These were just a few examples of the points and opinions raised at an interesting and illuminating event.