Children with disabilities being excluded from consultations on laws and policies



Professor Eilionóir Flynn
Professor Eilionóir Flynn

Children with disabilities are being excluded from consultations on laws, policies and programmes affecting them, a new report has found.

Researchers at NUI Galway School of Law and the Institute for Lifecourse and Society have found “several instances whereby children with disabilities have not had any documented opportunities to participate in the development of legislation, policy and programmes which affect their lives”.

The Mind The Gap report, commissioned by the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), calls for urgent action to vindicate disabled children’s rights under both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Professor Eilionóir Flynn, co-author of the report, said: “One of the key findings of our research is that children with disabilities often fall between two stools.

“They can be excluded from disability law, policy and programmes (which are often targeted at disabled adults), and are also often not considered in children rights-focused laws, policies and programmes (which may be geared towards non-disabled children).

“We hope that this research will serve as a starting point for change as it identifies gaps in current law, policy and practice which need to be addressed so that children with disabilities have their human rights fully respected.”

Dr Niall Muldoon, the Ombudsman for Children, added: “We know that children with disabilities in Ireland are not treated equally in many ways and for a variety of reasons. We commissioned this research because we wanted to identify the barriers that are preventing children from being able to realise their rights, and to offer some solutions to help those making laws and policies for children with disabilities.

“Highlighting the issues affecting children with disabilities has been a priority for the OCO for the past number of years. Through investigations like Molly’s Case, Jack’s Case and our Unmet Needs report we have highlighted the very real struggles facing children with disabilities and their families every day. We also heard from hundreds of children with disabilities through Beyond Limits, an event we ran in 2019. Mind The Gap is the next step on this journey.

“Time and time again, we have seen the uphill battle children with disabilities and their families must face. I hope that this research will be used by those making laws and policies for children with disabilities. It is time for the State to lead and not impede.”



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