COVID Committee Told Significant Gaps and Vulnerabilities in Policy and Services have resulted in a Disproportionate Impact on People with Disabilities

Commission Members Address Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the Commission) has today set out to Oireachtas Members that unless law, practice, and policy underpinning the rights of people with disabilities is made more resilient, we will continue to see people with disabilities facing their rights being undermined at times of crisis.

Addressing the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, Acting Chief Commissioner Dr. Frank Conaty, who was accompanied by Commission Member Professor Caroline Fennell, stated:

“While Covid 19 is a once-in-a-generation public health crisis, its impact should be seen in the continuum of how people with disabilities have been, and continue to be, treated in the design and delivery of public policy.”

“It is a fact that the significant gaps and vulnerabilities in existing policy and services have resulted in a disproportionate impact of Covid 19 on people with disabilities. “

“This disproportionate impact is at odds with the sentiment and message of collective solidarity in the face of the pandemic.”

The Commission is the Independent Monitoring Mechanism designate for Ireland under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the UNCRPD), it is supported in this monitoring work by a Disability Advisory Committee, composed of a diverse group of people with lived experience of disability.

The Commission also spotlighted in its engagement with the Oireachtas Special Committee, a specific concern about the lack of consultation in the development of Department of Health guidance on how access to critical care should be prioritised during the pandemic, in the event that demand exceeds availability.

The Commission considers that those most likely to be impacted by this policy guidance, including people with disabilities, have not been adequately consulted, and proposes that the time is now to further consider and develop this important guidance for healthcare workers.

Dr. Frank Conaty, Acting Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission set out:

“We are concerned that those most likely to be impacted by this policy guidance have not been adequately consulted, a consultation process needs to meaningfully consider the human rights and equality obligations of the State and the individual and collective rights of all of our citizens.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

The full text of Dr. Frank Conaty’s opening statement to the Committee is available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2020/07/Opening-Statement-COVID-Committee-Dr.-Frank-Conaty-16-July-2020-F.pdf

The Commission’s full written submission, “Impact of Covid-19 on People with Disabilities”, to the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response is available at the link below:

https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2020/07/IHREC-Submission-The-Impact-of-COVID-19-on-People-with-Disabilites.pdf  

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

 

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