- What is A Disabled Persons Representative Organisation (DPRO)?
- Who can be a member of a DPRO?
- Other (non-DPRO) Disability-Related Organisations.
- What Else does CRPD Say about DPROs?
- Are DPRO Rights currently recognised in Ireland?
- Who has the responsibility to protect the rights of DPROs?
- Have DPROs currently any say in anything that affects disabled people in Ireland?
- Are DPROs currently funded by Ireland?
- Language note
1. What is A Disabled Persons Representative Organisation (DPRO)?
1.1. DPROs are specifically founded to defend and advance the Human Rights of Disabled People (United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) General Comment 7 (GC7), para. 11).
1.2. DPROs cannot be Disability Service Providers or ally organisations (CRPD, GC7, Para. 13).
1.3. DPROs must be only led, run, directed, staffed, and mostly Membered by Disabled People, (CRPD, GC7, para. 11).
2. Who can be a member of a DPRO?
Primarily, any Disabled Person can be a member of a DPRO along the lines of the constituencies or impairments being represented by that DPRO.
DPROs can also be cross-impairment or intersectional, based on disability and other protected grounds of discrimination such as gender, marital status, family status, age, sexual orientation, race, religion and members of the Traveller Community (cf. CRPD, GC7, paras. 11-2).
3. Other (non-DPRO) Disability-Related Organisations.
3.1. Disability Service Providers.
Disability Service Providers are private Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who provide services to Disabled People, meaning they may have a conflict of interests in claiming to ‘represent’ disabled people (CRPD, GC7, para. 13.
So, Disability Service Providers cannot be DPROs, and indeed, DPROs should be distinguished from disability service providers and all other civil society organisations in consideration of any matter relating to disability by a public or private body, so that DPROs are clearly prioritised in consultations etc. (ibid.), even to the extent that there should be DPRO-only consultations in every branch and level of government (CRPD, GC7, para. 49).
3.2. Disability Ally-Organisations.
Another type of non-DPRO with regards to Disability are ‘Ally Organisations’, i.e., disability-related organisations who do not provide disability-related services, but who don’t otherwise meet the criteria for being a DPRO: e.g., led, run, directed, staffed and mostly Membered by Disabled People, and who may not be specifically set-up to advance the Rights of Disabled People. An example of this would be a network of parents of disabled children, relatives of disabled adults, or carers for Disabled People.
4. What Else does CRPD say about DPROs?
4.1. The only Representative Organisations regarding Disability are DPROs (CRPD, GC7, Part II, Section A), and as such, DPROs should be the first port-of-call in all consultations regarding disability, and the views and opinions of DPROs should be Prioritised by Public Bodies when addressing anything in relation to Disability, CRPD, Paragraphs 13-4, 23, 56), even to the extent that there should be DPRO-only consultations at all branches and levels of government (CRPD, GC7, para. 49).
4.2. Everything done by Public and Private Bodies should be Disability-Proofed, through DPROs, as a precondition for any Policy, Design, Law, etc., and this needs to be enforceable (CRPD, GC7, paras. 65-6).
4.3. Research should never be mistaken for consultation with DPROs, but even where research is undertaken into disability-related matters, obligations to closely consult with and actively involve DPROs regarding the agenda, questions and other aspects of the research, apply just as much (CRPD, GC7, paras. 17, 54, 77). For example, focus groups are not consultation, and cannot replace consultation, but focus groups should be predicated on prior obligations to DPROs.
5. Are DPRO Rights currently recognised in Ireland?
No, they are not. Even Ireland’s “focal point” of the CRPD, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) appears to be unaware of its own Obligations in this regard and also its own obligations to make everyone aware of the need to prioritise DPOs in all disability-proofing and other disability-related considerations.
6. Who has the responsibility to protect the rights of DPROs?
DCEDIY and all Public Bodies, as well as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) have the official responsibility of ensuring the implementation of the CRPD in Ireland, which is predicated on Articles 4 (3) and 33 (3) of the CRPD, as explained by the UN Committee, General Comment No. 7.
7. Have DPROs currently any say in anything that affects disabled people in Ireland?
DPROs are, at best, aggregated and effectively marginalised in occasional tokenistic consultations; but more generally, are systematically ignored. Rather than being approached by public bodies in a systematic way (CRPD, GC7, para. 22), DRPOs usually have to spend precious time and resources trying to explain what a DPRO is – a difficult task when DCEDIY continues to ignore its awareness-raising obligations as “focal point” of the CRPD in Ireland.
8. Are DPROs currently funded by Ireland?
As per the CRPD, DPROS must be State-funded, including with core institutional funding, while maintaining complete independence (CRPD, GC7, para. 61. However, since Ireland’s ratification of the CRPD (2018), DPO-specific funding and other necessary special supports, have still not been provided by the State.
The UN Committee tends to use the language of the medical model of disability, so that it refers to DPROs as “representative organisations of persons with disabilities,” or just “organizations of persons with disabilities”, as well as “their representative organizations.” Up until recently, in Ireland, DPROs have been known as Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs).
For more detailed information, see detailed legal opinion on DPROs, commissioned by Voice of Vision Impairment (VVI).: