New Departure on Rights of Persons with Disabilities as Formal Committee Begins Work in Monitoring Ireland’s Obligations

Eleven people will today be formally appointed to serve on the first ever statutory advisory committee in Ireland to support monitoring of Ireland’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The eleven members are appointed to their roles on the Disability Advisory Committee by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the Commission). The Disability Advisory Committee, made up of a majority of people with disabilities is brought together by the Commission to support its statutory function of monitoring Ireland’s implementation of the UN Convention.

The CRPD was ratified in 2018 more than a decade after being first signed by Ireland and is now in force. Ireland is expected to produce its first report to the United Nations in Geneva on its implementation of the Convention in 2020. Article 33 of the Convention requires an independent mechanism to monitor the implementation, a role which will be fulfilled by the Commission.

The appointments to the Disability Advisory Committee are for a three-year term and come after an open competitive process. Eleven people are being appointed with a significant majority of members being people with disabilities: (Full biographies have been provided by the members, and are available in the editor’s note)

  • Gary Allen
  • Bernie Bradley
  • Jacqui Browne
  • Adrian Carroll
  • John Bosco Conama
  • Shelly Gaynor
  • Eliona Gjecaj
  • Brian Hayes
  • Rosaleen McDonagh
  • Kieran Murphy
  • Vivian Rath

As set out under Section 18 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, the Chair and Vice Chair must be Members of the Commission.

According to Census 2016, over 13% or over 643,000 people in Ireland have a disability. Research published recently by the Commission with the ESRI has shown that people with disabilities continue to experience higher levels of discrimination compared to those without.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

 “The question of how Ireland meets its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities must be put in the spotlight.  This new Disability Advisory Committee will be an important mechanism to ensure that the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can fulfil its mandate to hold the State to account on the rights of people with disabilities.

“The Members of the Disability Advisory Committee bring with them significant personal and professional experience, and wide expertise in relation to the rights of persons with disabilities in Ireland.”


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Editor’s Note:

The Disability Advisory Committee

The Disability Advisory Committee will advise the Commission on the fulfillment of its independent monitoring role set out under CRPD Article 33. It is established under Section 18 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 and will have fourteen members, eleven recruited through an open public process and three Commission Members.

The Disability Advisory Committee will meet at least three times and year the Committee members are appointed for a three-year period.

The full listing of the eleven Members being appointed is below, including biographies provided by the Members themselves.

Photos of the Members are available at the following link: 

Disability Advisory Group Membership

Gary Allen Gary Allen is originally from Roscommon. He has been living in Galway with his wife, Linda, for almost 20 years. Having graduated from DCU in 1991 with a degree in Computer Science, he is a confirmed geek and avid reader. He is a founder member of Galway Sailability and a Past Commodore of Galway Bay Sailing Club. Since his mid-teens he has had a keen interest in personal development and human potential and is currently studying for a Diploma in Executive and Life Coaching. He passionately believes that everyone has the potential to make a valuable contribution to society. As someone born with Spina Bifida he knows how important it is that disabled people see themselves as valued members of society and hopes that the work of the DAC will help promote and develop those ideals.
Bernie Bradley Bernie Bradley has worked in the area of accessibility and equality for 25 years, working in both community and voluntary sector and public sector. Since 2004 she has worked in the local government sector leading significant cultural and organisational change in equality and accessibility in Monaghan County Council. Bernie has developed numerous policies and initiatives to improve accessibility for people with disabilities that have been implemented in local authorities throughout the country. Bernie holds a Master’s Degree in Public Management and a Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality.
Jacqui Browne Jacqui Browne has over 30 years of experience as a disability equality activist and consultant. With a BA Degree in Economics & Politics from UCD and a Masters’ degree in Education from Trinity College Dublin she has many years of experience working at local, national, European and International levels. She is a former member of Commission on Status of People with Disabilities whose report A Strategy for Equality was a blueprint for disability rights in Ireland.
Jacqui is Chairperson of DESSA - the national Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency, a board member of Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Irish Thalidomide Association. She is also actively involved as a patient advocate in IPPOSI - the Irish Platform for Patient Organisations, Science and Industry and is a EUPATI Fellow - European Patient Advocacy Training Initiative.
Adrian Carroll Adrian Carroll is a law graduate with Autism Spectrum Condition who has recently completed a LLM (International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy) (NUIG) with a thesis on how CRPD and international policy on Assistive Technology can help bridge the gap between higher education and employment for people with cognitive disabilities. Living in Killarney, Adrian holds a LLM (General) (UL), BCL (UL) and a Higher Diploma in Software Engineering and has professional experience with Niall Brosnan & Co Solicitors and SAP.
John Bosco Conama John Bosco Conama is originally from Roscommon and married to Audrey. He is the Director of the Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity College. He is the Board Director of the Irish Deaf Society and he has been involved in many committees and working groups within the Civil Service and other Government bodies to monitor the progress of Deaf and disabled people in society. His recent publications have focused on Deaf people in society, especially focusing on language rights and equality. He graduated with a doctorate from University College Dublin and his thesis focused on a comparative policy analysis of signed languages in two countries – Finland and Ireland. John Bosco was awarded as one of the European Label Language Ambassador for 2015.
Shelly Gaynor Shelly Gaynor is Chairperson of Independent Living Movement Ireland, with a passion for technology in particular Assistive Technology and the barriers it can break down for disabled people. Shelly sees technology as putting everyone on an even playing field and human rights for disabled people are very important to her. Shelly directs a Personal Assistants Service through her own company shellyonwheels. Giving disabled people complete control over their own lives is very important to Shelly.
Eliona Gjecaj Eliona Gjecaj holds a First-Class Honours (1.1) LLM Degree in International and Comparative Disability Law and Policy, and a 1.1 B.A. International Degree, from NUI Galway. She has been recognised as 1 out of 10 Outstanding Young People of Ireland 2018 by JCI Ireland, for her disability activism, achievements, and volunteering with disability NGOs.
Ms Gjecaj is chairperson of Galway Visually Impaired Activity Club since 2016, and auditor of the IMPACTE (Inclusion & Motivation for Promoting Access to Community Transformation & Engagement) Society, which she found and co-set up in 2017.
Brian Hayes Brian Hayes works part time in Kilkenny County Council. He is chair of the National Platform of Self Advocates, an independent advocacy organisation run by people with intellectual disabilities. Brian is a graduate of the Leadership and Advocacy programme in the Waterford Institute of Technology and has been the chair of Séasamh and the Inclusion Ireland Advocacy Sub Committee of the Board. Brian was appointed to the Taskforce on Personalised Budgets and the Make Work Pay Consultation Group. He regularly meets with Minister Finian McGrath representing the voice of people with intellectual disabilities.
Rosaleen McDonagh Playwright Rosaleen McDonagh is a frequent contributor to Sunday Miscellany RTE Radio1 and also a columnist for the Irish Times. Rosaleen is a performer & member of Aosdána & is a board member of Pavee Point & Project Art Centre. Theatre work includes; The Baby Doll Project, She’s Not Mine, and Rings. ‘Mainstream’ was produced in 2017. Colum McCann’s novel ‘Zoli’, which is a fictionalised narrative of Papusza, a Roma poet. Rosaleen will adapt this piece for production in 2019 with Fishamble Theatre Company. She has worked with Graeae Theatre Company. Tutti Theatre Company in Adelaide, Australia have invited Rosaleen to be a writer in residence at the Adelaide Theatre Festival 2019. Rosaleen holds a BA, two MPhils from Trinity College Dublin. Rosaleen is currently a PhD candidate in Northumbria University. Rosaleen who has cerebral palsy, is a member of the Traveller Community.
Kieran Murphy Kieran Murphy is currently the Quality and Risk Manager in the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital and also lectures in law on the Diploma in Disability Studies in University College Cork (U.C.C). From 2013 to 2018 Kieran was an inspector of disability services with the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). Kieran is a registered nurse in intellectual disability and his qualifications include law, quality in healthcare and a master’s degree in social policy.
Vivian Rath Vivian Rath, is a PhD Researcher in Trinity College Dublin researching the social involvement of students with disabilities in higher education. Following his Degree in Pharmacology, he went on to complete an MSc in Business Management where he researched the employment of graduates with disabilities. Director of AHEAD for 6 years, and a founding member of the national third level mental health campaign Vivian is a recently appointed member of the National Disability Stakeholders Group. He has extensive experience providing supports to people with disabilities accessing education and employment opportunities. A person with a disability, Vivian has been a disability activist for many years, campaigning for greater participation of people with disabilities in public and political life.

The 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. As part of its statutory remit, the Commission has a specific function to work towards the elimination of discrimination.