Human Rights and Equality Commission to Appear Before Supreme Court on Dublin City Council’s Consideration of Children’s Housing Need

Commission Granted Amicus Curiae Role in Supreme Court Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has been granted liberty by the Supreme Court to exercise its amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) function in a case exploring how separated parents exercising joint custody of their children are treated when applying for housing assistance payment (“HAP”) under the Housing Act 2009.

The case (Fagan v. Dublin City Council) centres on a separated father of three children, Mr. Fagan who sought HAP assistance to accommodate himself and his children. The Council assessed him as a one-person household for the purposes of the Housing Act, notwithstanding his three-night per week custody and co-parenting rights to his children, and so regarded Mr. Fagan’s need as being for a single bedroom unit.

Mr. Fagan argued in the High Court that, in contrast to many other local authorities, Dublin City Council would not even consider his eligibility for social housing with space for the children, let alone assess their level of need as a family unit. At the time, the children lived with their mother in hotel emergency accommodation.

In November 2018, the High Court upheld Dublin City Council’s decision and permission to appeal to the Supreme Court was granted to Mr Fagan and his children in April 2019.

As amicus curiae, the Commission will now assist the Supreme Court by making submissions examining Dublin City Council’s decision-making process and its policy when interpreted in light of international and domestic equality and human rights law.

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

“The Commission is aware of an estimated 800 people in a similar position as this family in Dublin City Council’s area alone, and so it is important to that decisions made by Local Authorities in relation to housing, are consistent, support family relationships and protect the rights of children.

 “This case also highlights the invisibility of this family’s issue in Central Government and housing statistics. If the housing authority fails to identify a need, central funding will not be provided.” 

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

As the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is now formally involved in these proceedings, we are precluded from making any further comment as the matters are before the Supreme Court.

Where written submissions are made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the superior Courts in amicus curiae cases they will be made available on www.ihrec.ie after the case has been heard.

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) 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 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.

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