Welcome to the newsletter of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
 
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Issue 4 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

 
 

Annual Report - Commission reports to Oireachtas on its work 

  Chief Commissioner Emily Logan addresses the crowd attending the launch of the Commission's Annual Report 2017

The Commission's Annual Report  for 2017 was submitted to the Oireachtas and published at a public event.

The Report highlights the Commission's landmark legal interventions, domestic and international policy work and engagement with civil society and rights holders, which took place throughout the year.

The Annual Report highlights include: 

  • 1,890 concerns raised by public, a 6% rise on previous year and topped by disability discrimination issues
  • Engagement with Oireachtas on key legislative and policy areas, new research published
  • Formal reporting on Ireland’s international obligations at the United Nations
  • Focus on Brexit impact through the Joint Committee with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
  • Public bodies’ legal obligations on human rights and equality a key focus of national seminars and grant support

Resources
The full report is available to download here.
Tá an leagan Gaeilge den tuarascáil bhliantúil ar fail anseo.

Related Media
RTÉ Radio 1 - Today With Sean O'Rourke interview with the Chief Commissioner
Irish Times article
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release (available in Irish and English)

 
 

Commission brings forward new research on housing discrimination and inequality

Cover image of Discrimination in Housing in Ireland showing different types of housing and accommodation 

New research has shown that specific groups, including people with disabilities, lone mothers and young people, are among those facing the highest levels of discrimination and inequality in relation to housing in Ireland.

The research published by the Commission  and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) examines people’s direct experiences across three measures: experience of discrimination while searching for housing; whether certain groups experience poorer housing conditions; and the prevalence of homelessness across different groups.

Some of the key findings include:

Lone parents 60% of homeless families are headed by lone mothers. In addition, lone parents experience high levels of discrimination in accessing housing and live in poorer quality housing, including poor neighbourhood environments.

Children have been particularly disadvantaged by the recent surge in homelessness and are now shown to make up 29 per cent of the homeless population.

People with disabilities
 are more than twice as likely to report discrimination relating to housing and over 1.6 times more likely to live in poor conditions. 

People on housing support payments emerge as more likely to experience housing deprivation and over-crowding compared to other people in the private rented sector.

Resources
Discrimination and Inequality in Housing in Ireland - full report
Related Media
RTÉ Radio - Morning Ireland report
Irish Examiner article
The Journal.ie article
Commission media release

 
 

Oireachtas engagement - Commission publishes recommendations on Article 41.2 of the Constitution  

IHREC policy statement on Article-41.2 of the Constitution of Ireland 

In advance of a referendum, the Commission has set out its recommendations to Oireachtas Members on addressing gender stereotyping, the meaning of family relationships and the value of care work under Article 41.2 of the Constitution.

Recommendations
  • Article 41.2 should be amended to make it gender-neutral.
  • Article 41.2 should be amended to reference ‘family life’. ‘Family life’ should be understood as including a wide range of family relationships, and include situations where family members do not live in the same home.
  • Article 41.2 should be amended to recognise and support care work.

Resources
Policy Paper: Article 41.2 of the Constitution of Ireland 

 
 

Advancing human rights and equality in the courts - family reunification

A picture showing an graphic of the scales of jusice 

The Commission has been granted permission by the Court of Appeal to appear as amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) in two cases involving family reunification for naturalised refugees.

The two cases raise significant human rights issues. In both, applications for family reunification from persons granted refugee status under the Refugee Act 1996 have been refused, as it was viewed that as the Applicants had both become naturalised Irish citizens, they were no longer entitled to “refugee” family reunification.

The Commission will assist the Court of Appeal by making submissions on the right to family reunification, on naturalised refugees and on best practice internationally in the field of human rights.

The Commission remains critical of the narrowing of access to family reunification for people granted international protection, describing the 2015 legislative changes as “retrogressive”. The Commission's policy paper published on World Refugee Day on the 20th of June recommends that the International Protection Act 2015 should be amended to:

  • Define family members in a way which complies with International human rights obligations.
  • Allow those who have established long-term partnerships or customary marriages to apply for family reunification, and ensure spouses and civil partners are eligible where the marriage or civil partnership subsisted on the date of the application.
  • Repeal or amend the 12-month limit for applications for family reunification.
  • Clarify in law the rights of programme refugees to reunification, as well as the rights of refugees who acquire Irish citizenship.

Resources
Policy Paper: The right to family reunification for beneficiaries of international protection
Related Media
Irish Times article
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release

 
 

Advancing human rights and equality in the Courts - Case arising from alleged age discrimination in An Garda Síochána

  A picture of the sign of the Court of Justice of the EU outside the building in Luxembourg

The Commission appeared before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg in a case to clarify the extent of the authority of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in considering complaints that allege national legislation does not comply with EU law. The case arises from alleged age-related discrimination where three men sought to to join the Garda Síochána between 2005 and 2007, but who were refused entry based on an upper age limit for entry as a trainee of 35.

The Commission appeared before the Grand Chamber of the CJEU in Luxembourg for the first time to represent two of the men involved, and argued that in order to be effective on issues of discrimination under equality legislation, the WRC must have the authority under EU law to make a binding legal declaration where national and EU laws are inconsistent.

The Court of Justice of the European Union is due to rule on the case in September.

Related Media
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release

 
 

CRPD at centre of Commission's deprivation of liberty recomendations

Graphic quoting the text from the CRPD about the purpose of the Convention to promote, protect and ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights for persons with disabilities. 

The need to meet the standards of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the core focus of the Commission's recent submission to Government on the deprivation of liberty.

Article 14 of the CRPD, recently ratified by Ireland protects the right to liberty and security of persons with disabilities. 

The Commission has been involved as amicus curiae in a number of recent legal cases focused on aspects of the deprivation of liberty. This included the ruling in May of the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the right of a man detained in a psychiatric institution to initiate a review of his detention on foot of a twelve month renewal order. The Court found that the man at the centre of the case had not received an effective means of vindicating his right to personal liberty. The Court of Appeal has suspended making a formal declaration of unconstitutionality for a period of six months until November 2018.

Resources

Commission submission on the deprivation of liberty safeguard proposals.
Commission media release

 
 

Grants Scheme 2018 applications

The applications deadline for the Irish Human rights and Equality Grants Scheme 2018 has now closed, and the Commission has seen over 100 proposals received under the two themes of: (A) intercultural understanding and diversity and (B) supporting the implementation of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty.

 Applications will now be formally assessed with all applicants informed of the outcome of their applications.

 
 

Video - Learn more about the Commission

  Commission work at plenary

Want to learn more about the Commission, our members, our staff and our work? 

Take a moment to watch our new video.

 
 

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