IHREC endorses UN Committee recommendations to protect and promote economic, social and cultural rights in Ireland


  • UN Committee urges Irish State to phase out austerity measures and restore pre-crisis levels of public services
  • Ireland’s response to crisis “disproportionately focused” on public expenditure cuts in housing, social security, health care and education
  • State urged to incorporate economic, social and cultural rights into domestic law
  • Persons with disabilities should see cuts under social benefits programmes cancelled

 Media Release

Monday 22 June 2015


The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has today endorsed the recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights following the State’s appearance before the Committee in Geneva a fortnight ago.

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan noted that many of the Commission’s recommendations were reflected in the UN Committee’s Concluding Observations published today.

The State was examined by a panel of UN human rights experts in Geneva over two days on 8 and 9 June. The UN Committee sought the views of the Commission as the independent national human rights institution, on the State’s record in protecting and promoting human rights.

Ms Logan said: “The Commission welcomes the strong message in the Committee’s recommendations that austerity measures should be gradually phased out and revenues to public services restored to pre-crisis levels.”

Ms Logan continued: “In our report, the Commission said that the burden of the crisis had disproportionately fallen on those least able to bear its impact. The UN Committee’s assessment confirms our view.

“The UN Committee has concluded that the State’s response to the crisis has been disproportionately focused on cuts to public expenditure, in the areas of housing, social security, health care and education.”

The Committee recommends enhancing access to services for people with disability, including cancelling the cuts on the social benefit programmes. “We have expressed concern about inadequate social security payments, given the additional cost of living for people with a disability.”

Ms Logan also noted the UN Committee’s recommendation that anti-discrimination legislation be extended to include all grounds for discrimination, including social origin, birth and other status.

The UN Committee recommended incorporating the International Covenant to recognise economic, social and cultural rights into domestic law.

“The Commission looks forward to seeing the Government follow through on its commitment to social impact assessments by a cross-departmental body comprising a number of departments which will inform budgetary choices.

“We hope to see these bodies publish their findings in advance of the Budget so that people are not in the dark about their potential impacts.”

The Commission agrees with the UN Committee’s concern that austerity measures were introduced during and after the crisis without proper assessments of their impact on economic, social and cultural rights.

The Commission suggests a mechanism to provide such insight would be a dedicated Joint Oireachtas Committee on human rights and equality to provide parliamentary oversight and hold the Executive to account on its international human rights obligations.

“We are pleased that the State delegation’s engagement with the Committee demonstrates that the Government takes the UN hearings process seriously, as was demonstrated by the attendance of representatives of nine government departments as well as staff from the Diplomatic Mission based in Geneva.

The Commission will continue to monitor the Government’s response to the Committee’s recommendations and calls on the State to consider these recommendations in full and take any necessary action to ensure it is fully compliant with the Covenant.

The UN Committee’s Concluding Observations are available to download here:

The IHREC report and Executive Summary are available to download:

Full report 

Executive Summary

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Concluding Observations and Recommendations



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

Notes to Editors

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) was established by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014. The Commission has a statutory remit to protect and promote human rights and equality in the State, to promote a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding and to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of human rights and equality. The IHREC is tasked with reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of law, policy and practice relating to the protection of human rights and equality and with making recommendations to Government on measures to strengthen, protect and uphold human rights and equality accordingly.

The ICESCR is an international human rights legal treaty which dates from 1966. Ireland signed and ratified the Covenant in 1989 and is required to submit periodic reports to the UN Committee on progress made to protect, respect and fulfil the rights enshrined in this instrument. The Covenant combines economic rights such as the right to work and fair conditions of work; social rights such as the right to housing, health and an adequate standard of living; with cultural rights such as the right to ensure that a minority’s culture is respected.

Ireland has been examined by the Committee twice before, in 1999 and 2001. The State’s most recent report to the Committee covers the period from 2002 to 31 December 2010. The State submitted an update to this report in March 2015.

IHREC made a submission to the Committee in May 2015 and attended the session in Geneva on 8 and 9 June 2015 during which Commission members made an oral statement to the Committee Members.