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NI Disability Rights

The Vice Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will speak at a conference in Stormont on Tuesday 30 January 2018, to highlight United Nations concerns about the levels of protection offered to people with disabilities in Northern Ireland including social welfare protections and gaps in equality law protections.

Coomaravel Pyaneandee will address the conference entitled, “Bringing Disability Rights Home: Realising the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland”, in Stormont’s Long Gallery.

The Conference - organised by the Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission – is discussing the Committee’s Concluding Observations about the UK’s compliance with the Convention. It will also hear from speakers from both Commissions, the Department for Communities, Disability Action, disabled people led organisations, and the QUB Disability Research Network.

The UN Committee on the Rights of Disabilities has identified key gaps in the implementation of the UN Convention of Rights for Disabled People in Northern Ireland. It highlights a lack of initiatives to address the inclusion of people with disabilities and issues around their living conditions. It also expresses concerns about the transition from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment, and the unjustified sanctioning of people with disabilities.

“It is of great concern that the UK Government has indicated it will not be taking any action to address the findings and recommendations of this UN report”, Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission said. “That is very troubling for everyone concerned by the disadvantage and very real hardship which the changes in welfare arrangements are already causing to a vulnerable and hard-pressed section of our community”.

“We must press the government to take action on foot of the UN Committee’s recommendations. Many of the issues it has raised echo matters that we and the other equality and human rights bodies across the UK have been calling for action on. It is imperative that we all work together to press Government to implement the recommendations”, concluded Dr Wardlow.

Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the NI Human Rights Commission stated:

"The UK Government has sought to encourage persons with disabilities into work. However, the Committee raised concerns that this is not being realised in practice. The employment rate for people with disabilities in Northern Ireland is way behind comparative rates for people without disabilities in the UK. In addition, the employment rate for people with disabilities also compares very badly with the employment rate for people without disabilities. This is a double whammy in Northern Ireland.

"The Committee further identified that persons with disabilities are experiencing significant hardship - including financial, material and psychological - when undergoing social security assessments. The Independent Mechanism will be meeting with the Minister for Disabilities to discuss the Committee’s report and implementation of their recommendations."

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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30th January 2018 11:06