New Equality Law Changes – A Dramatic Development

The Equality Authority and the Irish Centre for European Law are hosting a conference today on equality law which has attracted a large attendance from the legal profession and equality interests. Almost three hundred delegates will attend to hear inputs from speakers that include Professor Ivana Bacik, Mary Finlay SC, Adam Tyson EU Commission, Dr Lisa Waddington Maastricht University, Eilis Barry, Legal Advisor, Equality Authority and Dr Chris Mc Crudden from Northern Ireland. Sessions will be chaired by Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness, Kate Hayes and Niall Crowley from the Equality Authority.

Cathryn Costello, Director of the Irish Centre for European Law, co-sponsor of the event welcomed “this opportunity to facilitate an in depth discussion of the future direction of European equality law in Ireland”.

NEW EU DIRECTIVES

The Conference in Dublin Castle will hear Niall Crowley CEO Equality Authority say that “new equality directives on race and employment will have dramatic developments in Irish legislation. The Employment Directive covers sexual orientation, religion,disability and age. Both Directives will come on stream over the next two years. We hope they further develop our legislation, particularly in the following ways…

  • extending positive action accross all grounds covered by the Employment Equality Act (currently confined to four)
  • enhancing the dissuasive nature of remedies particularly in the Equal Status Act (currently confined to £5,000 compensation per claimant).
  • improving the reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities changing the exemption from ‘nominal cost’ to ‘undue hardship’.
  • addressing some of the more problematic exemptions in particular that relating to actions taken on foot of other legislation”.

It is important that the work of transposing the directives would be ambitious in maximising the development of our legislation, maintaining a leadership in this area in European terms, and that this be coherent in ensuring a coherence of rights and redress accross all the grounds covered this legislation” he continued.

NEW GROUNDS IN IRISH LAW

Niall Crowley also noted on an national level that “we have unique legislation in terms of the multi – ground focus and a single implementation body. It is among the most progressive in Europe with its coverage of nine grounds. The legislation however is a work in progress. There is currently a review of the grounds being conducted by the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform, and the Equality Authority has recommended the addition of four new grounds covering socio-economic status, trade union membership, past criminal conviction, and political opinion”, concluded Niall Crowley.

ENDS.

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