Freedom of Information

Introduction

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s Publication Scheme is prepared under Section 8 of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014.

This Publication Scheme is designed to facilitate the provision of up-to-date information relating to the Commission’s organisational structure, functions, services, decision-making, finance, procurement and FOI. The Publication Scheme is web based and contains links to reference material which will be updated as provided for under the Act.

If you require information that is not currently made publicly available as part of this Publication Scheme, you may consider making an FOI Request to the Commission using our FOI Request Guide & Form .

A. Information about the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Establishment

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was established on 01 November 2014, under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. In undertaking its mandate, the Commission is obliged by section 10(3) of the Act to exercise its functions with a view to encouraging and supporting the development of a society in which:

  • there is respect for, and protection of, each person’s human rights;
  • there is respect for the dignity and worth of each person;
  • a person’s ability to achieve his or her potential is not limited by prejudice, discrimination, neglect or prohibited conduct;
  • each person has a fair and equal opportunity to participate in the economic, political, social or cultural life of the State, and;
  • there is mutual respect between persons, including classes of persons, based on a shared understanding of the value of diversity within society and on a shared respect for equality and human rights.

Roles, Responsibilities and Functions

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights and equality institution. The Commission is an independent public body that accounts to the Oireachtas, with a mandate established under the IHREC Act 2014. The IHREC Act includes and further enhances the functions of the former Irish Human Rights Commission and the former Equality Authority.

The purpose of the Commission is 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.

Its work is determined independently by the fifteen members of the Commission who were appointed by Head of State, President Michael D. Higgins. The diverse membership of the Commission broadly reflects the nature of Irish society.

The work of the Commission ranges from working at the policy level to review the effectiveness of human rights and equality law, policy and practice in the State and within public bodies, to working with communities and civil society to monitor and report on people’s real life experiences of human rights and equality on the ground.

The Commission’s legal powers include giving practical help, including legal assistance to help people defend their rights, and contributing to legal cases (amicus curiae) that deal with someone’s equality or human rights.

Whether addressing individual concerns, engaging with government or public bodies on policy and practice issues or raising awareness with public audiences on human rights and equality, the Commission’s task is to build a fair and inclusive society that protects and promotes human rights and equality.

The Commission’s vision is of an inclusive Ireland where human rights and equality are respected, protected and fulfilled for everyone, everywhere.

Governance/Management Arrangements

The provisions of the IHREC Act 2014 are designed to ensure the independence of the Commission in its work. Commission members are appointed by the President, following a resolution by both Houses of the Oireachtas and the members independently determine the Commission’s policy and activity. The Commission is funded through a Vote of the Oireachtas and the Director of the Commission is the Accounting Officer for its Vote.

The structural independence of the Commission, in accordance with the Paris Principles, has been recognised in its “A” Status accreditation as an NHRI with the United Nations. The Commission is the employer of its staff who are civil servants in the civil service of the State.

The Commission has adopted the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies in a manner consistent with its underpinning legislation, the IHREC Act 2014. The Commission is also subject to the Corporate Governance Standard for the Civil Service which it has also adopted in a manner consistent with its founding legislation.

The overall governance and control framework within the Commission is guided by:

  • Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014;
  • Code of Practice for the Governance of State bodies;
  • Corporate Governance Standard for the Civil Service;
  • Ethics in Public Office Act 1995;
  • Standards in Public Office Act 2001;
  • Report of the Working Group on the Accountability of Secretaries General and Accounting Officers (the Mullarkey Report);
  • Public Financial Procedures 2008.

The governance arrangements in place in the Commission are set out in detail in its Corporate Governance Framework which is supported by its Strategy Statement 2016–2018 .

The Commission conducts approximately 6-8 ordinary plenary meetings per year. In addition, extraordinary meetings of the Commission may be conducted to facilitate the recording of time-sensitive decisions in between scheduled ordinary plenary meetings.

Decision-making at Commission level is conducted, where possible, on the basis of consensus. Where there is a diversity of opinion on a given matter, a majority vote may be taken to determine the Commission’s position.

Please note that an updated list of Commission members will be provided upon the appointment of new Commission members in late 2017. A full breakdown of Commission membership and attendance for previous years is published in the Commission’s Annual Reports .

Minutes of ordinary plenary meetings are published as part of this publications scheme and can be viewed below:

11 April 2017 18th Ordinary Plenary Meeting Minutes (pdf)
17 May 2017 19th Ordinary Plenary Meeting Minutes (pdf)
28 June 2017 20th Ordinary Plenary Meeting Minutes (pdf)

Committees

There are five committees in operation which report to the Commission in accordance with their terms of reference and governance guidelines as determined by the Commission. These committees are listed as follows:

  • Audit and Risk Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Casework Committee
  • Policy and Legislation Committee
  • Human Resources Committee

Please note that an updated list of committee members will be provided upon the appointment of new Commission members in late 2017.

A full breakdown of committee membership and attendance for previous years is included in the Commission’s Annual Reports.

Audit and Risk Committee

The roles and responsibilities of the Commission’s Audit and Risk Committee are set out in its Terms of Reference. This Committee has a particular role to advise the Accounting Officer in relation to business and financial reporting and internal control.

Finance Committee

The roles and responsibilities of the Commission’s Finance Committee are set out in its Terms of Reference. The Finance Committee provides oversight of the financial implications of the activities of the Commission including planning, budgeting, review and information and reporting processes.

Casework Committee

The roles and responsibilities of the Commission’s Casework Committee are set out in its Terms of Reference. The Committee assists the Commission in fulfilling its responsibilities by providing guidance and support in relation to the discharge of the Commission’s legal functions.

Policy & Legislation Committee

The roles and responsibilities of the Commission’s Casework Committee are set out in its Terms of Reference. The Committee assists the Commission in fulfilling its responsibilities by providing guidance and support in relation to the discharge of the Commission’s policy and legislation review functions.

Types of Records Held by the Commission

Records held by the Commission fall within the following categories:

General

  • Annual Reports;
  • Strategy Statements;
  • Work Plans;
  • Minutes of Plenary Meetings;
  • Internal Administration Records.

Legal

  • Records of legal assistance sought and received under Section 40;
  • Records of legal queries;
  • Records related to Amicus Curiae briefs.

Policy & Research

  • Published research reports;
  • Published policy position statements.

Strategic Engagement

  • Contacts with Government Departments;
  • Contacts with Oireachtas Committees;
  • Press Cuttings;
  • Speeches and Presentations;
  • Records relating to publication of reports e.g. annual reports.

Corporate Affairs

  • Corporate Assurance Agreement(s);
  • Accounts records;
  • Assets Register;
  • Risk Register;
  • Facilities records;
  • ICT records;
  • Human Resources Records;
  • Civil/Public Service Guidelines and Circulars;
  • Internal procedures records;
  • FOI Requests;
  • Data Protection Requests;
  • General enquiries/correspondence.

Corporate Plans & Strategies

Strategy Statement 2016-2018
Strategy Statement 2016-2018 Plain English – Edited by NALA

Annual Reports

Annual Report 2016
Annual Report 2015

Organisational & Pay Grading Structure

Grade/Pay Scale No. on Scale
Assistant Secretary 1
Director 1
Principal Officer 1
Assistant Principal Officer 11
Higher Executive Officer 11
Executive Officer 12
Clerical Officer 8

The position of Chief Commissioner is remunerated on the Assistant Secretary Standard Salary Scale (€122,313 – €139,728).

Location

Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission
16-22 Green Street
Dublin 7
D07 CR20

Contact Details

For general/business enquiries please contact:
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 8589601
Email: info@ihrec.ie

For information on your rights and the remedies available to you under equality and human rights law in Ireland, please contact the Your Rights service:

Lo-call: 1 890 245545
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 8583000
Email: YourRights@ihrec.ie

Our opening hours are:
Monday – Friday
9.00 – 13.00
14.00 – 17.00

B. Services Provided to the Public

Our Services

Your Rights can provide you with information on your rights and the remedies available to you under equality and human rights law in Ireland. This includes information on:

How our services can be accessed

To contact Your Rights:

Your Rights, 
Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission,
16-22 Green St,
Dublin 7.

Office hours are Mon – Fri: 9 am–1 pm and 2 pm–5 pm.

Charges Related to Services

Services provided by the Commission are free of charge.

C. Decision Making Process for Major Policy Proposals

As Ireland’s national human rights and equality institution, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is independent of Government and therefore does not make public policy. However, in fulfilling its statutory mandate, the IHREC engages with the structures delivering human rights and equality in the State. Related activities of the Commission include reviewing the effectiveness of human rights and equality law, policy and practice in the State and within public bodies, engaging with government officials drafting legislation, and with the legislature as a Bill progresses through the Houses of the Oireachtas. These activities are summarised below:

Legislative Observations

The Commission has a statutory mandate to examine any legislative proposal to ensure that it meets with human rights and equality standards, making recommendations or ‘legislative observations’ where legislation has implications for promoting and protecting human rights and equality in Ireland. These recommendations inform the work of Government Departments, members of the Oireachtas and relevant statutory bodies.

Legislative observations made by the Commission can be viewed here.

Contributions to National Consultations, Policy Development and Strategy Implementation

The Commission maintains active engagement with the Oireachtas and the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality and participates in consultations on domestic policy matters such as the Strategy for the Rental Sector, the Policing Authority Code of Ethics for the Garda Síochána, and the National Traveller/Roma Inclusion Strategy.

Further information on these activities can be viewed in the Commission’s Annual Reports.

Reports to International Bodies

The Commission also focuses on the State’s international human rights and equality obligations, and the implementation and monitoring of compliance with international treaties and Conventions.

Ireland’s human rights and equality record under these treaties and conventions is periodically reviewed by independent committees that form part of the United Nations and Council of Europe monitoring framework. As Ireland’s national human rights and equality institution, the Commission actively engages with this process by providing oral and written submissions – called ‘parallel reports’ – on key challenges for the protection of human rights and equality in Ireland. These UN and Council of Europe reviews result in recommendations addressed to the Irish Government on measures that should be taken to comply with international, European and national human rights and equality law.

In its preparation of reports to UN Committees, the Commission conducts nationwide consultations on the implementation of treaties and conventions in Ireland.

The Commission’s reports to International bodies can be viewed here.

Public Sector Duty

Section 42 of the IHREC Act 2014 places a positive duty on public sector organisations to have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality and protect human rights in their daily work. The Commission may provide guidance to public sector bodies to encourage them in developing policies, good practice and operational standards in order to meet their obligations under the duty.
The Commission undertakes a comprehensive programme of engagement with public bodies to raise awareness of the duty and build capacities on embedding human rights and equality considerations into their functions, policies and practices.
Upcoming events and resources related to the Public Sector Duty can be viewed here.

Budget Proofing for Human Rights and Equality

The Commission engages in a range of activities which contribute to the development of human rights and equality budgeting structures in Ireland.

In 2016, the Government published its ‘Programme for a Partnership Government’ which includes commitments to:

“…develop the process of budget and policy proofing as a means of advancing equality, reducing poverty and strengthening economic and social rights” and to
“draw on the expertise of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to support the proofing process”.

The Programme for Government states that institutional arrangements to support budget proofing will be put in place in the Oireachtas and within key Government Departments.

Further information and resources related to human rights and equality budget proofing by the Commission can be viewed here.

D. Financial Information

In accordance with section 27(1) of the IHREC Act 2014, the Commission is responsible for preparing Appropriation Accounts and for ensuring the regularity of all financial transactions. The functions underpinning these responsibilities include authorising and monitoring payments for goods and services, tendering processes, the operation of payroll and the compilation of monthly returns to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Appropriation Account

The Appropriation Accounts of the Commission are published annually by the Comptroller & Auditor General. Full text of Appropriation Accounts are available below:
Appropriation Account 2016
Appropriation Account 2015

Prompt Payment Returns

In accordance with Government Decision S29296 of 2 and 8 March 2011, the Commission is required to ensure that valid invoices are paid within 15 days from the date they are received.
The Commission’s quarterly Prompt Payment returns can be viewed here.

Commission Member Remuneration/Travel & Subsistence

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E. Procurement

Procurement Policies

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission promotes best practice and consistency of application of public procurement rules in relation to its purchase of goods and services.

All procurement within the Commission must be carried out in compliance with all relevant procurement legislation which can be viewed here .

Where possible, the Commission uses public procurement frameworks provided by the Office of Government Procurement at ogp.gov.ie .

Current Tenders

Details of the Commission’s current tenders can be found at www.eTenders.gov.ie which is the central facility for all public sector contracting authorities to advertise procurement opportunities and award notices.

F. Freedom of Information Disclosure Log & Information to be Published Routinely

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act came into effect on 14 October 2014, granting members of the public the following statutory rights:

  • the right to access records held by all public bodies covered by the Act;
  • the right to have personal information in a record amended where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
  • the right to receive reasons for decisions taken by public bodies affecting the person.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an FOI body under the FOI Act 2014.

The FOI Act distinguishes between personal and non-personal information. Personal information can be accessed regardless of when it was created if it is still in existence. Non-personal information can only be accessed if it has been created after 21 April 1998 (commencement date of the FOI Act).

The Commission is required to publish Disclosure Logs for all non-personal Freedom of Information requests. Disclosure Logs can be viewed below:

2017 Disclosure Log
2016 Disclosure Log
2015 Disclosure Log

Making an FOI Request

For guidance on how to request records from the Commission under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, please use the FOI Request Guide & Form. FOI requests can be submitted to foi@ihrec.ie or by post to this address:

FOI Officer,
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
16-22 Green St,
Dublin 7.

Publications

Publications by the Commission can be viewed here.