About the conference

The NDA Annual Conference 2020 focused on the theme of Access to Justice in line with Article 13 UNCRPD, in the context of criminal justice. Article 13 UNCRPD seeks to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

The event considered Article 13 across the various stages of the justice process, including related policy and programme activities such as effective communication, training and development for justice professionals, rehabilitation, education, moving on to employment and life in the community from prison.

The conference also provided an opportunity to share valuable Irish and international experience and good practice, and to learn from other countries who have explored different approaches to the implementation of Article 13, including effective collaboration across all relevant departments and agencies.

Conference Proceedings

Plenary Session

  • Welcome Address: Helen Guinan, Chairperson, National Disability Authority 1
  • Opening Address: Anne Rabbitte T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Disability
  • The Right to Access Justice (Article 13) under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Setting the Bar: Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the United Nations in Geneva and Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Progressing Justice Reform through Australia's National Disability Strategy: Andrew Walter, First Assistant Secretary, Integrity and Security Division, Attorney-General’s Department, Australia
  • The Positive Impact of Intermediaries in the Criminal Justice System: Catherine O’Neill, Registered Intermediary and Chair, Intermediaries for Justice, England

Video library

  • Joan Clarke, Former litigant who took a High Court case challenging the exclusion of deaf people from jury service
  • Gáibhin McGranaghan, Policy Officer, AsIAm

Afternoon Opening Address:

Ms Justice Mary Irvine, President of the High Court

Breakout Sessions


Chaired by Michael O’Neill (Head of Legal, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission)

  • Kate Mulkerrins (Executive Director of Legal, An Garda Síochána) and Chief Superintendent Alan McGovern (Legal and Human Rights, An Garda Síochána) Effective Policing in the Community
  • Terri Sweeney Meade (Principal Assistant Architect, Office of Public Works) Garda Stations and Courts’ Facilities: Making Changes to Spaces

The Courts & Legal Professionals

Chaired by Eilis Barry (Chief Executive, Free Legal Advice Centres)


Chaired by Fíona Ní Chinnéide (Executive Director, Irish Penal Reform Trust)

Children with Disabilities in the Youth Justice System

Chaired by Dr Karen McAuley (Head of Policy, Ombudsman for Children’s Office)

Decision-Making Capacity and the Criminal Justice System

Chaired by Martina Colville (Head of Corporate, Department of Justice)

Probation and Re-integration into the Community after Prison

Chaired by Fergal Black (Director of Care and Rehabilitation, Irish Prison Service)