37. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been delayed for over nine years in view of the fact that international agreements have the force of law to the extent determined by the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40439/16]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): Ireland signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and since then, successive Governments have emphasised Ireland’s strong commitment to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. This Government remains committed to ratification of the Convention.
It is essential that the State is in a position to meet the obligations it assumes under the terms of an international agreement from the moment of its entry into force for Ireland. Before the State can ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, enactment of new legislation and amendment of existing legislation is required to ensure obligations will be met upon entry into force for Ireland. Ratification of a Convention before we have amended domestic legislation that contradicts it makes no sense and does nothing to ensure compliance or to actually protect the people for whose benefit the Convention exists. The previous Government published a Roadmap in October 2015, which sets out the legislative measures needed to meet those requirements, along with declarations and reservations to be entered by Ireland on ratification.
Considerable progress has already been made to overcome the remaining legislative barriers to Ireland's ratification of the Convention. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law on 30 December 2015 and is a comprehensive reform of the law on decision-making capacity. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 completed Committee Stage in the Dáil on 7 December. When enacted, the Bill will reform Section 5 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 to facilitate the full participation in family life of persons with intellectual disabilities and the full expression of their human rights. Achieving the necessary balance between those rights and ensuring appropriate protection is crucial.
Work is underway on drawing up the Equality/Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill to progress miscellaneous legislative amendments necessary to proceed to ratification. The Bill will address issues such as the Convention's requirements in relation to reasonable accommodation and deprivation of liberty. The General Scheme of the Equality/Disability (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill is available on the Department of Justice and Equality website. The Bill is at the final stages of drafting and I expect the Bill to be published very shortly so as to facilitate ratification of the Convention as early as possible.