227. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the legislative barriers that remain in place arising from the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCRPD; the progress that has been made to bring forward the necessary legislation since Ireland ratified the convention in March 2018; when he plans to ratify the optional protocol to the UNCRPD providing persons with disabilities and advocacy groups a means to challenge Government on its failures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50608/18]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): The Disability Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2016, which contains key legislative amendments needed for compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), was published on December 2016. Second Stage (Dáil) took place on 31 January and 1 February 2017. Committee Stage is set for Wednesday 19 December 2018 in Dáil Éireann.
There are a number of amendments to be brought forward at Committee Stage, most of which are technical in nature. One of the key amendments proposed is to increase the employment target of persons with disabilities in the public sector from 3% to 6% on a phased basis by 2024.
The Disability Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2016 includes provisions to establish the monitoring framework required by Article 33 of the Convention to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the CRPD. It requires the involvement and participation of civil society, in particular, persons with disabilities, in the monitoring process.
The monitoring framework will include both the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the National Disability Authority (NDA) and will be governed by a formal Memorandum of Understanding. The IHREC Act 2014 was designed to ensure that IHREC, as Ireland’s National Human Rights Institution, fully meets the standard of independence in accordance with the Paris Principles, and is best placed to make periodic independent reports to the UN, supported by progress assessments and statistical information supplied by the NDA. The NDA has expertise and information resources in relation to reporting on disability issues.
The Convention and the Optional Protocol cover a broad range of commitments some of which require substantive cultural change such as those relating to de-congregation, personalised budgets and deprivation of liberty.
The Government’s approach to meeting the terms of the Convention will be one of sustained and ongoing improvement. Work is continuing on the reforms needed for an optimum level of compliance with the convention's requirements. Accordingly, the Optional Protocol is not being ratified at this time but will be ratified at the earliest opportunity following completion of Ireland's first reporting cycle, which will identify any additional actions needed to ensure the highest possible level of compliance with the Convention.