Welcome to the newsletter of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
 
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Issue 3 2018
 
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Welcome

Welcome to the newsletter of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. The information and links below give updates on some of the Commission's work, alongside resources and information on human rights and equality.

In this issue: 

For more information on our work visit www.ihrec.ie or follow the Commission on twitter @_IHREC

 
 

New appointments to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

  IHREC Commission Members with President Michael D Higgins and An Taoiseach Leo Vradakar



Seven Commission Members (including five new Members) have been formally appointed to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission by President Michael D. Higgins. The appointment ceremony took place in Áras an Úachtarain, and was also attended by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The new Commission Members will serve a five-year term, and these appointments see the Commission at its full complement of fifteen Commission Members. In accordance with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, this ensures a continuing gender balance with eight women and seven men.

The newly appointed Members are:

  • Tony Geoghegan – Chief Executive, Merchants Quay Ireland
  • Salome Mbugua – AkiDwA, Wezesha
  • Caroline Fennell – Professor of Law, UCC
  • Colm O’Dwyer – Senior Counsel
  • Patrick Connolly – Chief Executive Officer, Inclusion Ireland
  • Heydi Foster Breslin – Chief Executive Officer, Misean Cara
  • Frank Conaty – Lecturer, NUIG
Resources
Further information about the Commission

Related Media
Irish Times article
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release

 
 

Guidelines on Retirement and Fixed Term Contracts focus on age discrimination

Retirements and Fixed Term Contracts - Guidelines  

New guidelines to safeguard older workers who wish to continue in employment from potential age related discrimination arising from compulsory retirement or fixed term contracts has been published by the Commission.

The Guidelines are aimed at employers and employees, and address some practical issues that arise from compulsory retirement or the granting of fixed-term contracts to employees who are over a compulsory retirement age. The Guidelines explain how these issues may be addressed to equip employers in meeting obligations under the Employment Equality Acts and to inform employees about their right to equal treatment in the workplace.

Resources
Retirement and Fixed-Term Contracts - Guidelines

Related Media
Irish Times article
RTÉ article
Commission media release

 
 

Advancing human rights and equality in the courts - challenging discrimination in social housing criteria

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The Commission provided legal representation to a family who brought a successful discrimination case against their local authority to the Workplace Relations Commission (the WRC). The WRC found that the family, including three children, were subject to discrimination due to their status as members of the Traveller community. The discrimination occurred in relation to an application for social housing.

The case focused on the family’s application to be placed on the housing list in the county where they had been living for two years in a small roadside caravan lacking basic facilities. The Council refused their application on the basis that the Council considered that the family’s roadside site was not a legal residence and, therefore, the family was not normally resident in the county.

The Commission argued on behalf of the family that the question of lawful residence was an additional criterion added by the Council. This criterion was not usually applied to other applicants from non-Traveller backgrounds. The WRC ordered the Council to pay a total of €20,000 in compensation to the family and to review its policy.

Resources

The Commission's 'Your Rights' service

Related Media
Irish Examiner article
Breaking News.ie article
Commission media release

 
 

Oireachtas reporting -  effective access to employment for asylum seekers

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The Commission addressed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality to make its recommendations on addressing the long-running human rights issue of access to employment for asylum seekers.

The question of the right to work for asylum seekers has been a priority issue for the Commission since its establishment. The damaging impact the lack of access to employment was having on asylum seekers and their families, including on their dignity and freedom, informed the Commission decision to exercise its legal function as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case of a Burmese man who successfully took a Supreme Court challenge on the matter.

The Commission is critical of the interim measures put in place as a response to the Supreme Court ruling, which it considers are insufficient to provide effective or meaningful access to employment. The Commission advised Oireachtas Members that a solution is not just an issue of finding a quick legal fix in the wake of the landmark Supreme Court ruling, but that the principle of ‘effective access’ must be the primary consideration.

The Commission outlined a set of recommendations on the form of the State Opt-In to the EU’s Reception Conditions Directive, to provide effective access to employment for asylum seekers.

Resources
Policy Paper: Access to the Labour Market for Applicants for International Protection
Oireachtas video of committee meeting 

Related Media
Commission media release

 
 

Joint Committee - meeting with the EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator

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The Joint Committee of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission met with Michel Barnier, the EU Commision's Chief Brexit Negotiator, to discuss the significant risks of differences in rights protections on a North-South basis following the UK’s EU Withdrawal.

The meeting, held at the All-Island Civic Dialogue in Dundalk, followed on from recent similar meetings in Dublin with Simon Coveney T.D, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit, in Belfast with the UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Lord Duncan and in Brussels with the European Commission, European Parliament and the UK and Irish Permanent Representatives to the EU.

The Joint Committee has proposed a mechanism whereby the two human rights institutions, in their formal role under the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement would advise and contribute its expertise on human rights issues to the process leading to the final withdrawal agreement. 

Resources
The Joint Committee Policy statement on the United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union

Related Media
Irish Legal News article
Joint Committee media release

 
 

Bursary Scheme for the Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality

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All public bodies in Ireland have a positive responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their staff and the persons to whom they provides services. This is a legal obligation, called the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty.

As part of its work in promoting the Duty, the Commission has opened the third year of its bursary scheme for prospective students of the Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality at the Institute of Public Administration, and accredited by UCD.

The Diploma is a one-year, part-time programme that has been developed in conjunction with the Institute of Public Administration and accredited by UCD. The bursary scheme will cover all course fees for successful applicants.

The application process is open until the 22nd of June.

Resources
The Public Sector Duty- information booklet
Video - Implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty
Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality

Related Media
Details on how to apply for the bursary scheme.


 
 

Research call -  COALESCE Research Fund 2018

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The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is delighted to be in partnership with the Irish Research Council (IRC) and a number of other funding bodies including the CSO, Irish Aid and government departments to bring forward a ground-breaking research opportunity.

The COALESCE Research Fund 2018 is a new fund for research that addresses national and global societal challenges, and seeks to fund excellent research to implement the National Planning Framework: Ireland 2040 our Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the IRC will be co-funding research in the field of human rights and equality through two research grants of €100,000 each for a 15-month study period: one focused on interculturalism and the other on socio-economic rights.

All potential applicants must submit an expression of interest by 28 June 2018.

Resources

Information on how to apply.


 
 
Annual report launch small graphic

Date for your diary

The Commission will launch the 2017 Annual Report at an event on Monday June 25th. We invite you to attend 16-22 Green Street from 11.00 to 13.00 to meet with the Commission and hear about some of the key successes from the past year. 

 
 

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