Equality Authority

‘Accessible’ Emergency Services in Ireland ? … Action Now !

2009-02-17:  Mr. Joe Duffy, presenter of the popular phone-in RTÉ Radio 1 Programme: ‘Liveline (13.45-15.00 hrs. local time in Ireland), covered an item of major importance today … the complete lack, in our country, of ‘accessible’ emergency services for people with a hearing impairment (2001 WHO ICF).

 

To place this issue in a necessary wider context … back in December 2006, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  After various procedural ‘jigs and reels’, the Convention became an International Legal Instrument on 3rd May 2008.  This is now International Law !

 

 

It is worth quoting from some of the UN Convention’s Text

 

Article 9 – Accessibility

1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas.  These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:

(a)  Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces ;

(b)  Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.

 

Article 11 – Situations of Risk & Humanitarian Emergencies

States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.

 

[Note: Article 11 covers risk situations such as … fires in buildings.]

 

 

Progress with regard to the continuing Ratification of this United Nations Convention can be viewed here.

 

Although Ireland signed the Convention on 30th March 2007, amidst much publicity, this country has still not ratified it.  Why is that ?   Other European Union Member States have ratified it without any problem.

 

Yet again, why haven’t the National Disability Authority … and particularly Ms. Angela Kerins, NDA & Equality Authority Chairperson – ‘valiant protector, against all odds and foes, of disability & equal rights’ … screamed and protested loudly about Ireland’s disgraceful tardy ratification of the UN Disability Convention ?   Did we even hear a whimper from them ?   Definitely not.

 

This is an issue where an essential leadership role must be taken up – enthusiastically – by our politicians and senior civil servants.  The correct signals must be given to society as a whole.

 

What Mr. Joe Duffy does not understand, unfortunately, is that Irish Politicians and Senior Civil Servants would all rather commit ritual suicide on Merrion Street (outside the Dáil and Government Buildings) than give people with disabilities their rights.

 

 

There is no longer any acceptable reason whatsoever … why ‘accessible’ emergency services cannot be introduced immediately in this country … or throughout the rest of Europe.

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National Disability Authority – Viable ?

2008-12-12:  Further to the much regretted resignation of Mr. Niall Crowley, the Equality Authority’s Chief Executive, on the evening of 11th December 2008 … and meditating on the poor protection of human and social rights in Ireland …

 

It was interesting to listen to Ms. Angela Kerins, Chairperson of the National Disability Authority (NDA), giving sincere and earnest interviews in the media, a few weeks ago, about the possible amalgamation of the NDA into a larger, but single, Rights & Equality Organization.  [She also holds the Chair of the Equality Authority.]  

 

The question which I have been asking myself for a number of years is: “Does the NDA serve the best interests of the Irish Disability Sector ?”.

 

Back in September 2005, for example, I drafted a submission on behalf of FireOx International, SDI’s Fire Engineering Division, concerning the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government’s Outline Disability Sectoral Plan (2004) … and its serious omission of any consideration of ‘fire safety for all’ in buildings.

 

Commencing the Submission, I stated …

 

The 2005 Disability Act (Number 14 of 2005) is a deeply flawed and inadequate piece of legislation; and every individual and/or organization associated with its inception and development should be thoroughly ashamed.  It is an outrage, and a national disgrace.

 

In particular, we do not understand why every Board Member of the National Disability Authority has not already tendered his/her resignation.  We demand that this should now happen, and without any further delay.”

 

See the full 2005 FireOx International Submission.

 

 

Earlier this year (in April 2008), when reviewing a new National Disability Authority Publication: ‘Promoting Safe Egress and Evacuation for People with Disabilities’, I discovered – much to my great surprise – that the authors of the document, White Young Green Consultants (Ireland), had cut some corners and used copyrighted material developed by FireOx International for their commercial gain … without any permission.  This was later acknowledged by the National Disability Authority.

 

This NDA Publication also has many technical errors.

 

Maybe … it is Ms. Angela Kerins who should have resigned long ago … and not Mr. Niall Crowley ?

 

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