The Government needs to take urgent action to address new figures which reveal at least 52 people with disabilities are on social housing waiting lists in Co Donegal, according to one of the country’s largest charities.

Rehab, Ireland’s largest independent charity for people with disabilities, says the Government is failing people with disabilities by not providing them with their basic human rights.

Access to appropriate social housing remains a major stumbling block for people with disabilities. A lack of availability and choice makes housing a significant issue for the 600,000 people with disabilities living in our communities.

Furthermore, more than 3,000 people with disabilities are still living in institutions. This figure does not include the 1,200 people under 65, most of whom have disabilities, inappropriately placed in nursing homes.

These people housed in inappropriate settings are being deprived of the basic human right to live in the community and play an active role in society, the charity says.

The Government’s delay in taking responsibility for funding of appropriate housing demonstrates a complete lack of priority for people with disabilities.

The organisation, which supports over 20,000 people, has now reiterated its call for the Government to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Ireland is the only country in Europe which has still failed to ratify this vital international agreement, which would afford people with disabilities the same basic human rights as everyone else.

Article 19 of the UNCRPD specifically provides for people with disabilities to live independently in their communities.

Kathleen O’Meara

Kathleen O’Meara, Rehab’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs said: “Ireland really needs to get to grips with how we support people with disabilities to live in their own homes. These figures show the Government is failing our most vulnerable members of society. The right to a home is a critical human right outlined in the UNCRPD.

“If the convention was ratified, the Government would have to be accountable. These worrying figures show that people with disabilities continue to be treated like second class citizens.

“The reality is that people with disabilities remain invisible when it comes to policy and service provision. Every day in Rehab services we see people living full and active lives.

“We support nearly 200 adults to live independently in their communities through our supported accommodation services. It’s past time the Government prioritise people with disabilities,” Ms O’Meara added.