We have been working on a number of cases involving recognition of the rights of residency in the State for EU citizens who are unable to work due to disabilities. Such persons are not covered by the terms of Directive 2004/38EC and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons Regulations) (No 2) 2006. As a consequence of this, the Department of Justice has refused some of our clients a residence card for their family members, on the basis that the EU Citizen is not exercising EU Treaty rights.
We believe that such a decision is unlawful, without provision of an alternative form of indefinite permission to remain, because it discriminates against EU citizens solely on the basis of disability. It discriminates against an EU citizen with a disability who has exercised free movement in favour of those EU citizens who have exercised EU free movement to Ireland, but who are not disabled and can therefore comply with the conditions of the Directive and Regulations to acquire a permanent residence card for their family members.
We believe that persons with disabilities are entitled to exercise free movement rights in the same way as a person without disabilities. We believe that the right to move within the EU, and to the company of one’s family members, are fundamental rights, and the State has an obligation to adhere to these rights, which derive directly from the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The position of person’s with disabilities is now protected under EU law by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which came into force on 3rd May 2008. Ireland signed the CRPD on 30th March 2007 and intends to ratify it.