Overwhelming Public Support for Human Rights Protections as Ireland Marks Human Rights Day

64% of People Consider Ireland Needs a Right to Housing in Our Constitution

79% of People Consider Discrimination Related to your Background Should be Made Illegal

People in Ireland overwhelmingly (95%) believe that human rights are important for creating a fairer society in Ireland, according to a new national Amárach poll published today by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) to mark International Human Rights Day.

Every year on 10 December, the world celebrates Human Rights Day, the day when, in 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The theme of Human Rights Day 2020 is “Recover Better” focused on ensuring our recovery from COVID-19 sees a focus on combatting inequality and advancing human rights.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission commented: “This year has been one like no other. COVID has presented challenges for the protection of human rights, both in its threat to life and health, and in actions taken by the State in its response and recovery plans. Certain groups in society have felt a disproportionate impact including older people, people with disabilities, minority ethnic groups and women. What’s now important is that we look at Ireland post-COVID through a prism of human rights and equality to ensure we recover better.”

The nationally representative poll of over 1200 people published today also shows that in relation to:

  • Housing 82% of people in Ireland consider housing to be a basic human right, this is exactly the same figure as a 2018 poll which asked the same question. 13% are against.
  • Constitutional Change – 64% of people in Ireland believe that the right to housing should be enshrined in our Constitution, 24% are against.
  • Discrimination Reform- 79% of people support the inclusion of a new ground in Ireland’s equality law to protect people against discrimination due to their socio-economic status (such as their family background, home address or type of housing, educational background, economic situation). 9% are against.
  • Persistent Inequalities- More than half of people (53%) disagree with the view that everyone in Ireland enjoys the same basic human rights.
  • Knowledge of Human Rights 60% of people in Ireland say they know a ‘great deal’ or ‘fair deal’ about human rights with 33% saying they know ‘not very much’ or ‘nothing’. 79% know of the European Convention on Human Rights, 59% know of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and 34% know of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

As Ireland’s national human rights and equality body, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission carried out this survey as part of its mandate to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland.

In response to the findings on housing, Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney stated: “We need to look at housing in Ireland as a right not a commodity. Housing represents more than just the costs of bricks and mortar, it’s where our children grow, where our families gather, and where generations should feel safe and secure. This survey shows that people are consistently looking at housing and accommodation as an area where a rights-based approach should be taken by the State.”

And In response to the need for reform of Ireland’s equality laws, Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney stated: “Discrimination against people living in areas facing socio-economic challenges should now be considered for prohibition in law. This approach would allow people seeking employment, to ensure that their applications are assessed on their skills, qualifications and ability and rather than on social background or postal address.”


For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095


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Editor’s Note:

The Amárach Research poll

A bespoke online survey was carried out by Amárach Research on behalf of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

A total sample of 1,200 was achieved with quotas set on gender, age, social class and region to achieve a sample aligned with national population. Amárach estimate that the margin of error of 2.74% which allows a confidence interval of 95%. Interviewing fieldwork dates were 1-3 December 2020. These findings are high-level results brought forward for Human Rights Day with additional findings and results to follow from this December poll.

Additional detail of the survey is available at the link below:

Human Rights Day Amarach Research Results 2020

The 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.