Human Rights and Equality Update - Issue 12 2019
Issue 12 2019

A powerful address to a full house by Professor Philippe Sands QC (pictured above) at our inaugural Human Rights and Equality Lecture provided a fitting close to 2019 here at the Commission. A podcast of the event is now online. 

At the Supreme Court, judges ruled unanimously on a case establishing the importance of parental and family rights in Dublin City Council’s assessment of children’s housing. The Commission was amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case. 

Commission Member Salome Mbugua meanwhile led our response to the United Nations Concluding Observations following Ireland's examination earlier this month under the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

We also this month sent to government the Commission's recommendations on reviewing the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act which the Commission finds to be inadequate.  

Of interest to researchers, we published a technical paper with the ESRI entitled European Survey Data on Attitudes to Equality and Human Rights, mapping data on Irish attitudes to equality and human rights 2000-18. 

And finally from all at the Commission, our thanks for your interest in our work this year.

We wish you the very best for a relaxing festive season.

See you in 2020.


Inaugural Human Rights and Equality Lecture 2019
Philippe Sands QC 

  Philippe Sands QC

Professor Philippe Sands QC delivered the inaugural annual Irish Human Rights and Equality Lecture 2019 with an address on the future of human rights entitled Beyond East West Street: the Path of Human Rights. 

Sands spoke to a packed room about the future of individual and group rights, from the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement to the European Convention and the Universal Declaration, examining the future of human rights, stating that "as nationalism, populism and identity politics rise globally, the foundations of the 1945 global settlement - decolonisation, human rights, economic liberalism - are shaken".

Listen back to the lecture via our podcast

newsletter quotes

Supreme Court judgment
Parental and family rights in Dublin City Council’s assessment of children’s housing


The Commission welcomed a significant Supreme Court judgment setting out how separated parents exercising joint custody of their children should be treated when applying for social housing assistance under the Housing Act 2009.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the case of Fagan v. Dublin City Council, that Dublin City Council had exceeded its discretion under law in assessing Mr. Fagan. The separated father of three, was only assessed as being a one-person household and in need of a single bedroom unit, despite the fact that he had three-night per week custody and co-parenting rights to his children.

In our legal submissions as amicus curiae, the Commission argued that the approach taken by Dublin City Council to automatically exclude Mr. Fagan and his children from the definition of ‘household’ prevented them from being considered together for social housing eligibility. 

Commission submissions Fagan v. Dublin City Council 

Related media
Irish Times article
Irish Examiner article
Commission media release
newsletter quotes 5-05

Ireland needs to do more to tackle racism
UN recommendations published


The Commission welcomed the publication of the UN’s detailed recommendations on the action Ireland needs to take to meet its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Ireland was examined by UN experts earlier this month in Geneva, and the “concluding observations” offer a roadmap of the legislative, institutional and policy actions now required from the State.

The Commission particularly welcomes the UN’s focus on tackling racial discrimination across areas of housing, education, healthcare provision and the labour market.

In line with its statutory functions, the Commission will now continue to monitor and report on the State’s progress.

Commission's Submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Ireland's Combined 5th to 9th report.
Dedicated CERD resource page with factsheets for download

Related media
Irish Times article
Irish Examiner opinion editorial by Commission Member Salome Mbugua
RTÉ Radio 1–interview with Commission Member Salome Mbugua
Commission media release

newsletter quotes 5

Ireland's hate speech legislation inadequate
Commission outlines recommendations for review to Government


The Commission published its recommendations to Government on the Review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, which the Commission finds to be “inadequate to effectively address hate speech that calls for a response in criminal law.”

Courts Service figures quoted in the paper show that since 2000,there have been 44 prosecutions under the 1989 Act, resulting in just five convictions, two of which resulted in imprisonment. Of the 44 prosecutions initiated under the 1989 Act, 22 cases were struck out or dismissed by the court and seven were withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989

Related media
Irish Independent article
Irish Legal News article

Human rights and equality data mapped
Technical paper offers insights for researchers  

Cover Image: European Survey Data on Attitudes to Human Rights and Equality 

A report targeted at researchers was prepared for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission by the Economic and Social Research Institute as part of the Research Programme on Human Rights and Equality.

The report seeks to map the availability of Irish data on attitudes to equality and human rights issues from European surveys carried out by five international organisations over the period 2000 – 2018. 


Full research report
Excel spreadsheet of data to accompany the report 


We welcome your feedback

If you've got any feedback or suggestions please contact us at 

We'd really appreciate you forwarding this newsletter to people you think might be interested in subscribing.

To unsubscribe please don't hesitate to contact us at