IHREC attends Select Committee on Arrangements for Budgetary Scrutiny

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has been invited to attend the Select Committee today as part of its process of increasing scrutiny and accountability of the budgetary process.

Members of the Committee have invited Commission representatives to attend the meeting in Committee Room 3, Leinster House at 4pm today (Tuesday, 21st June), to discuss the input the Commission should have into poverty and equality proofing budgetary measures.

The invitation stems from a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to “develop the process of budget and policy proofing as a means of advancing equality, reducing poverty and strengthening economic and social rights”.

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan welcomed the new role for the Commission in the Programme for Government’s commitment to increase accountability and transparency in the budgetary measures.

Ms Logan stated: “We welcome a stated commitment to ensure ‘the institutional arrangements are in place to support equality and gender proofing in the independent fiscal and budget office and within key government departments’. The Programme states that it will ‘draw on the expertise of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to support the proofing process’.”

The Commission’s submission to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in May 2015 pointed to the absence of a human rights or equality assessment of the Troika bailout programme.

Ms Logan said: “The Commission’s report last year to the UN Committee found that many groups already susceptible to poverty or inequality were particularly affected by the recession. Our report highlighted the stark choices made by Government that fell short of the basic core standards required by international human rights law. The impact of a seven-year austerity drive has been enormous and the burden of the crisis and of dominant policy responses to it has fallen disproportionately on those least able to bear its impacts.”

Ms Logan concluded: “This Government now has an opportunity to undertake budgetary processes in a new way – in a way that is informed by human rights and equality standards. This parliamentary engagement is a welcome first step to improving the process.”

The Programme for a Partnership Government published in May 2016 states:

We will ensure the institutional arrangements are in place to support equality and gender proofing in the independent fiscal and budget office and within key government departments and to draw on the expertise of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) to support the proofing process.

It further states: For Budget 2017 the Budget and Finance Committee will be tasked with looking at gender and equality proofing budget submissions and proposals with independent expertise (including IHREC) to assist where necessary. (Page 15 Programme for a Partnership Government).

This commitment is part of a wider package of reform of the annual budgetary process which aims to enhance the role of the Parliament in budget formulation and which will include the establishment of an independent parliamentary Budget Office to provide research and technical support to Oireachtas Members, and a new Oireachtas Committee on Budget and Finance.

Committee proceedings can be viewed live at this link: http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/watchlisten/watchlive/committeeroom3/

Ends/

For further information please contact Niamh Connolly on IHREC 01 8589601/ 087 4399022. Twitter: follow us @_ihrec

Note to Editors:

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Ireland’s third periodic review, June 2015, included a key recommendation that the State make necessary efforts to consult on a regular basis with civil society and relevant stakeholders in the policy-making process including through establishing an effective consultative mechanism.

In summary, the report noted the unprecedented economic and financial crisis that the State went through and its exit from the bailout programme. The Committee noted with concern that, in spite of the social transfers made by the State to mitigate the impact of austerity measures:

–          The State’s response to the crisis has been disproportionately focused on instituting cuts to public expenditure in the areas of housing, social security, health care and education, without altering its tax regime.

–          Many austerity measures have been adopted during and after the crisis without proper assessments of their impact on economic, social and cultural rights.

–          The austerity measures, which continue to be applied, have had significant adverse impact on the entire population, particularly on disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, in enjoying their economic, social and cultural rights and

–          No review has been carried out of such measures in a comprehensive and human rights based manner, since the State party’s exit from the bailout programme.

The IHREC Report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Ireland’s third periodic review is available at these links:

Full report 

Executive Summary

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