IHREC uses Legal Powers to ask Local Authorities to Prepare and Implement Equality Action Plan on Traveller Accommodation

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) is using its legal powers, under Section 32(1) of the 2014 IHREC Act, to invite seven local authorities to prepare and implement an Equality and Action Plan on the provision of Traveller accommodation and services.

In 2019, the Commission invited each of the 31 local authorities in the State to undertake an equality review of their provision of Traveller accommodation. This review focused on repeated failures nationally to draw down ring-fenced capital budgets in order to meet human rights obligations on Traveller-specific accommodation. The local authorities were asked to conduct a review of the practices, procedures and other relevant factors in relation to these failures, to examine what the barriers are to the drawdown of State funds, and to assess how they can be removed. The resulting data and analysis added a local dimension covering the whole country to contribute to what we knew was an issue at national level.

We have now selected seven local authorities and invited them to improve their Traveller accommodation service through the preparation and implementation of an Equality Action Plan. The local authorities are: South Dublin, Limerick City and County, Tipperary, Donegal, Mayo, Cork City and Wicklow. The Commission’s approach was informed by the responses of local authorities to the Equality Reviews, and a geographical spread that reflects a national reach.

We have advised the local authorities that the Equality Action Plans should identify specific actions that ensure the effective implementation of the findings in the Equality Review and the related published account of that review, including the Commission recommendations. We propose that the local authorities detail and map these actions with timelines for completion.

We have also provided general guidance to the relevant local authorities to assist with the process, and we have stressed that consultation with members of the Traveller community, the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee, and local and national groups representing members of the Traveller community, is an essential part of the implementation and success of these plans.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said:

“This is an important opportunity to improve the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation services and it will provide valuable learning for the future, including new practices to better meet the needs of our Traveller population.

The States’ failure to provide culturally appropriate accommodation for members of the Traveller community has long been criticised by the UN, the EU and various international human rights bodies. It has resulted in Traveller individuals and families living in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, being forced into homelessness, and leaving behind their cultural heritage.

Equality law must identify solutions in areas like this, which are, for myriad reasons, resistant to change. We look forward to working positively and progressively with the local authorities involved to achieve best practice in providing accommodation to Traveller communities nationwide.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,
01 852 9641 / 087 468 7760
sarah.clarkin@ihrec.ie
Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

 

Notes to editor:

Read the Commission’s accounts of the Local Authority Equality Reviews on Provision of Traveller-Specific Accommodation.

 

Equality Reviews

Section 32 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality 2014 Act gives the Commission statutory powers in relation to the carrying out of equality reviews and the preparation of Equality Action Plans. An equality review or equality action plan may relate to equality of opportunity generally, or a particular aspect of discrimination, within an organisation or organisations (public or private sector). They are requested to carry out equality reviews and the focus of the reviews are a matter within the discretion of the Commission, having regard to its areas of focused work and its strategic priorities.

In non-legal terms equality reviews are a means for an organisation (here the councils) to benchmark, or audit, its practices (here the delivery of Traveller-specific accommodation) against its obligations under equality law in order to assess whether the organisation, as a service provider, is fulfilling its statutory obligations to ensure equality of opportunity, or an absence of discrimination.

 

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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