Human Rights and Equality Update - Issue 10 2019
 
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Issue 10 2019
 
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Welcome,

this month, the Commission met in Ballybane, Galway for a regional plenary meeting. Hosting a civil society forum, Commission Members heard from organisations working with people affected by the housing and accommodation crisis, pictured above.

We began October highlighting the issue of discrimination against people with disabilities in employment by bringing together employers and people with disabilities to discuss reasonable accommodation as set out in law. Browse resources from this conference

In the Courts, the Commission welcomed the Supreme Court judgment in the AC case focusing on the law of wardship. Separately, the Commission published its legal submissions in a Supreme Court case exploring family rights.

Meanwhile, the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement Joint Committee met to continue its Brexit-focused work on the equivalency of rights for people on the island.

Chief Commissioner Emily Logan and Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioner Les Allamby welcomed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to our offices to discuss key human rights concerns. 

The Commission welcomed the State’s formal apology to women and their families impacted by the cervical smear controversy. 

Finally, the Commission welcomed the open appointment process, now underway through the Public Appointments Service, for eight positions on our Commission.  

Read on for more on our work, events and significant human rights and equality issues in Ireland.

 
 
 
 
 

Regional forum
Commission meeting in Galway focuses on housing and homelessness

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Members of the Commission met in SCCUL Enterprise Centre, Ballybane, Galway for a formal meeting of the Commission in the West of Ireland.

Hosting a civil society forum, members of the Commission heard accounts from organisations working with people affected by the housing and accommodation crisis including representatives from disability organisations and groups supporting ethnic minority and immigrant communities.

Related media
Video highlights

 
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Reasonable Accommodation  
Conference material now available online

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On the World Day for Decent Work, the Commission hosted a packed event entitled Achieving Equality in Workplace: Reasonable accommodation in practice bringing together 150 public and private sector employers, trade unions, people with disabilities and civil society organisations.

The conference took place weeks after a landmark Supreme Court ruling (Daly v Nano Nagle) significantly clarified the rights of persons with disabilities to reasonable workplace accommodation from employers. The event also took place in the context of Ireland's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, having ratified the Convention in March 2018. The latest CSO figures also show that people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than people without a disability.

Resources
Reasonable Accommodation in Practice conference resources

Related media
Irish Times editorial 
Irish Times article
RTÉ Drivetime - Interview with speakers
Commission media release
 
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Joint Committee
Protecting human rights after Brexit

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Representatives of the Joint Committee consisting of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission met at Farmleigh House to review human rights issues on the island of Ireland, in light of recent Brexit proceedings.

The Joint Committee discussed the publication of the draft agreement for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, should it come into force, examining in detail the provisions relating to human rights and equality, in particular the revised Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Related media
Newstalk article
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release
 
 

Supreme Court wardship ruling
Clarifying individual’s rights and protections

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The Commission welcomed the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in a case that explored the lawfulness of the procedures under which someone can be kept in a hospital or nursing home, and made a ward of court.

In its judgment, delivered by Ms. Justice Iseult O’Malley, the Supreme Court held that the procedures under which the woman at the centre of the case (‘AC’) was made a ward of court “were flawed, in that Mrs C’s fair procedure rights were not vindicated”.

The Court also raised specific concerns about the absence of legal aid in cases such as these to ensure the person’s interests are protected, stating that this “is a matter of real concern, given the consequences of a wardship order.”

Resources
Commission's legal submissions–AC and Others vs Cork University Hospital and Others

Related media
Law Society Gazette article
Commission media release
 
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Family rights 
Commission exercises amicus curiae in Supreme Court case

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The Commission appeared before the Supreme Court as an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) in a case focused on marriage and family rights.

In its legal submissions, the Commission sought to assist the Court by setting out the legal framework governing marriage. The case (MKFS v. the Minister for Justice and Equality) is expected to clarify whether a marriage contracted under the Civil Registration Act 2014 is valid where the Minister for Justice considers it to have been contracted for obtaining EU law entitlements.

Resources:

Commission's legal submissions–MKFS v. the Minister for Justice and Equality

Related media
Irish legal news article
Commission media release

 
 
 
 
 

Commission appointments
Commission welcomed open appointment process for eight Commission positions

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The Commission welcomed the open process for eight upcoming appointments to the Commission, now underway through the Public Appointments Service.

There was a large interest in the most recent appointment process from highly qualified candidates and a highly competitive open selection process, reflecting the high-level of interest that exists in the Commission. The Commission hopes to see that again.

Related media
State Board advert / PAS advert
Commission media release
 
 
 
 
 

Michelle Bachelet
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

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UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet held a face-to-face meeting in Dublin with  Commission Members from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. 

The meeting, which took place on the UN’s International Day of Non-Violence, discussed the role of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in over 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland.

Resources
Video highlights
Commission media release
 
 
 
 
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State apology 
Human rights and equality compliant culture in our health service

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The Commission has welcomed the State’s formal apology to women and their families impacted by the cervical smear controversy, enacted through a Dáil statement made by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D.

An Taoiseach acknowledged the litany of failures and disrespectful treatment of women and their loved ones emphasising the importance of accountability and providing access to justice for the women.

Related media
Irish Legal news article
Commission media release

 
 
 
 
 

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