Commission Provides Guidance to Citizens’ Assembly on Ageing Population

Focus on Human Rights and Equality Considerations

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“The Commission”) will today (8th July) address the Citizens’ Assembly in its function as the national human rights and equality body for Ireland, to outline human rights and equality considerations to the Citizens’ Assembly deliberations on “How we best respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population.”

Census 2016 figures released this week elaborate the continued rise in the average age of the Irish population, with the number of those aged over 65 having increased by over 19% since 2011.  Age is an equality ground under Irish law, which means that age-related discrimination is prohibited in the context of employment, and in accessing goods and services.

In addressing the Citizens’ Assembly, Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner will focus specifically on access to pensions and inequality, particularly gender inequality, highlighting the following issues:

Human rights and equality considerations related to pension policy

  • Human dignity underpinning social security provision: The United Nations has affirmed that the right to social security is of central importance in guaranteeing human dignity for all. Supports must be adequate in amount and duration to realise the right to an adequate standard of living.
  • Within this context the Commission outlines that the effectiveness of the State pension has been reduced, detailing a history of cuts in payments including fuel, telephone and electricity allowances.
  • Changes and increases in payment bands have resulted in reductions in the amount of payments made to new recipients in all the bands below the second band, which have hit those least able to take reductions in the levels of their pensions.
  • With the State pension age rising, the Commission also states that current law does not adequately protect workers from compulsory retirement at an age before they are entitled to receive a State pension.
  • The averaging system for Contributory State Pension access can place people with broken insurance records at a disadvantage, including returning emigrants and missionaries who have worked in Ireland in their early life.
  • The habitual residence condition can also have a negative impact on specific groups such as Travellers and migrants.

Gender inequality and access to pensions

  • The current gender pension gap stands at 41% and stems in part from the gender pay gap, career interruptions and women being overrepresented in precarious, part-time and unpaid care work.
  • The Commission recommends that the unpaid work of women be recognised through the provision of adequate social supports.
  • Women experienced career interruptions due to the historic ‘marriage bar’, which required women in public service jobs to leave their employment upon marriage.
  • The Commission recommends that the Homemaker’s Scheme be applied retrospectively by the State immediately, to ensure equitable access to the Contributory State pension.

Using the Public Sector Duty to human rights and equality-proof pension policy

  • The Commission recommends that the Department of Social Protection, in line with its Public Sector Duty obligations, conducts a comprehensive assessment of the human rights and equality implications of social welfare law and policy.

Emily Logan Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The census figures have shown an increase in the average age of the population, but the more gradual pace of this demographic change in Ireland compared with elsewhere in Europe, provides us with a unique space and opportunity to develop innovative ageing strategies characterised by active citizenship, respect for human dignity and intergenerational solidarity.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

The full detailed written submission made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the Citizens’ Assembly is available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/?post_type=document&p=18892&preview=true

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was set up on 1 November 2014 as an independent public body to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 sets out the functions of the Commission,

(a) to protect and promote human rights and equality,

(b) to encourage the development of a culture of respect for human rights, equality, and intercultural understanding in the State,

(c) to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of human rights and equality in the State,

(d) to encourage good practice in intercultural relations, to promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity in the State and respect for the freedom and dignity of each person, and

(e) to work towards the elimination of human rights abuses, discrimination and prohibited conduct

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

  • Facebook Share Icon
  • Twitter Share Icon