Reasonable accommodation in Irish constitutional law: two steps forward and one step back – or simply out of step?

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Shivaun Quinlivan
Lucy-Ann Buckley

Keywords

reasonable accommodation, disability, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD, article 40.1, equality, Irish Constitution

Abstract

By ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Ireland has committed to implementing the principle of reasonable accommodation in multiple contexts. To date, however, it has failed to expand existing legislative measures. This article analyses the potential of the Irish Constitution to encompass a reasonable accommodation duty and meet Ireland’s CRPD obligations. It examines the constitutional model of equality, as well as judicial conceptualisations of disability, and argues that the Constitution is capable of accommodating a more robust legislative standard for reasonable accommodation than often thought, which is compatible with the CRPD. It also contends that recent decisions offer potential for the development of a constitutional reasonable accommodation duty. However, these apparent gains are fragile and the current constitutional capacity to accommodate CRPD requirements is undermined by continuing judicial contestation. The Constitution should therefore be amended so that Ireland can meet its international human rights obligations.

Abstract 81 | NILQ 72.1.3 Quinlivan and Buckley Downloads 7