SINN Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called for parity of esteem for Irish Sign Language (ISL) users.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking after meeting with members of the Cork Deaf Club, who outlined their concerns about a lack of support from Fine Gael for the ISL Recognition Bill currently before the Seanad.
“All members of society deserve the same access to services and opportunities and this includes members of the Deaf Community. Earlier this month I secured recognition for sign languages in the European Parliament and my Sinn Fein colleagues in both the Dáil and Seanad have been to the forefront in arguing for similar recognition in Ireland.
” Deaf people face unique challenges in participating fully in society in both the public and private spheres. This needs to be recognised by Government and steps must be taken to guarantee full equality to users of Irish Sign Language.
“In particular I was horrified at the disadvantage and danger they are put in by barriers to accessing legal and healthcare services, and occupation health and safety alerts in their workplaces.
“Not only must the Government fast track the ISL Recognition Bill currently going through the Seanad but they must also make real efforts to instigate tangible change; genuine equality does not stop at recognition, action must follow.
“It is crucial that ISL users are able to access all public services and in particular the Government must work with members of the Deaf Community to create a mechanism that would allow them full and timely access to public services. Deaf people must no longer be disadvantaged in the work place either, and Government must act to vindicate their rights to dignity, safety and equality at work.
“This is not just a communication issue; it is an equality issue, an issue of workers’ rights and a human rights issue.”