Human Rights and Equality Update - Issue 4 2019
Welcome to the newsletter of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
Issue 4 2019
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In this issue of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission newsletter, we bring you the latest news from the Commission, together with useful resources and information on significant human rights and equality issues in Ireland.

In this issue:


Changes to atypical work permit scheme for migrant fishers welcomed by Commission


The Commission welcomed a settlement reached in a case relating to human trafficking and other severe forms of labour exploitation on the Irish fishing fleet.

The Commission exercised its function as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case. The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) and the Minister for Justice and Equality presented the terms of a mediated settlement agreed between them to the High Court.

The agreement makes a number of changes to the atypical work permit scheme for non-EEA fisherman working on the Irish fishing fleet, including:

- Flexibility for non-EEA fishermen to move to another vessel within a defined time period without risk of visa cancellation and deportation. Their previous employer cannot veto such a move.
- Inter-agency collaboration between the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), Marine Survey Office MSO and the Gardaí if necessary to be streamlined to combat exploitation on board fishing vessels;
- Greater promotion of awareness among non-EEA fishermen of their rights and entitlements.

Related media
RTÉ article
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release


Implementing the Public Sector Duty: new guidance published 


The Commission has developed its guidance for public bodies on Implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty.

The guidance provides an overview of the Duty, its context and the three steps that a public body must take to implement the Duty in line with its statutory obligation.

We are running three information sessions on the new guidance in the coming months: 16th May 2019; 13th June 2019 and 19th September 2019. Event details are available on the Public Sector Duty website.

Dedicated Public Sector Duty website - guidance, information sessions, FAQ & case studies
Implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty [English]
Dualgas na hEarnála Poiblí um Chomhionannas agus Cearta an Duine a chur i bhfeidhm [Gaeilge]


Providing legal assistance in challenging discrimination— Customer with disabilities settles discrimination claim against licenced premises


The Commission has welcomed the settlement secured in a case of a pub customer with a brain tumour who was asked to leave a pub where he had been celebrating the end of rehabilitative treatment.

The man’s condition causes a limp, and this was interpreted by staff as signs of intoxication. Despite explaining his disability directly to staff, the man was asked to leave the premises, which caused him significant distress and embarrassment.

We provided direct legal representation to the man in his application to the District Court for redress under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003. The settlement saw the licensed premises issue an apology to the man, alongside compensation of €3,500. Furthermore, the management of the premises agreed to attend an annual equality training course, and to report back to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission under the agreed settlement, which saw no admission of liability.

Related Media
Irish Independent article
The Sun (ROI) article
Irish Times article
Irish Examiner article
Commission media release

Providing legal assistance in challenging discrimination— Syrian Refugee wins equal status case for refusal of bank account


The Commission has welcomed a significant decision by the Workplace Relations Commission (“the WRC”) in the case of a refugee who took a case against a bank for breach of the Equal Status Acts 2000-2015, alleging that they refused to open a bank account for him on the ground of his Syrian nationality.

Using statutory powers, we provided legal assistance, advice and representation to the man in bringing his case to the WRC. The man came to Ireland from Syria as part of Ireland’s Refugee Protection Programme, and was seeking to set up the bank account after he entered employment.

The outcome saw compensation of €4,000 paid to the man and also the bank was ordered to engage directly with the Commission to minimise the possibility of any type of re-occurrence of the type of incident experienced in this case.

Full decision of the WRC Adjudication Officer
A guide to the Equal Status Act - video

Related Media
Irish Independent article
RTÉ article
Newstalk article
Commission media release


Advancing human rights and equality in the courts— Commission to appear before Supreme Court in right to fair trial case


The Commission has been granted liberty from the Supreme Court to exercise its amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) function in an internationally significant case relating to the European Arrest Warrant system and an individual’s right to a fair trial.

The case (Artur Celmer v. Minister for Justice and Equality) has been appealed directly from the High Court to the Supreme Court as it is of significant public importance. The case centres on the requested extradition of Mr. Artur Celmer, a Polish national, to Poland under the European Arrest Warrant system, where concerns have been raised by Mr. Celmer over recent legislative changes in Poland about the independence of the judiciary, the courts and the Public Prosecutor. These changes, according to Mr. Celmer, undermine the possibility of him having a fair trial.

Related Media
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release


Advancing human rights and equality in the courts—Commission appears before Supreme Court in right to silence case


The Commission has appeared before the Supreme Court as amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) in a significant case that is examining the right to silence when a person is questioned as part of a criminal investigation.

The case (Sweeney v. Minister for Justice, Ireland and the Attorney General) has been appealed directly from the High Court to the Supreme Court due to the important constitutional issues at question. The case explores the nature and extent of the right to silence, privilege against self-incrimination, and the offence of withholding information under section 9(1)(b) of the Offences Against the State Acts.

Commission's submissions to the Supreme Court

Related Media
Irish Times article
Irish Legal article
Commission media release


Second meeting of the Disability Advisory Committee


The second formal meeting has taken place of the Disability Advisory Committee, convening to support the Commission in its formal role in monitoring Ireland’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The Disability Advisory Committee highlighted concerns regarding the accessibility of polling stations, which informed part of the Commission’s recent publication: Recommendations on the Establishment of an Electoral Commission.

Commission policy recommendations

Related media
Commission media release


Student Bursary Scheme 2019 opening soon


We will shortly be launching the fourth year of our bursary scheme for prospective students of the Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality at the Institute of Public Administration. Ten bursary places will be available with four reserved for civil society. Applications will open 10th May on


Date for diary - launch of 2018 Annual Report

Save the date 
Join us for the launch of the Commission's 2018 Annual Report on Monday, 24th June 2019. The event will be a great opportunity to meet the Members of the Commission and find out more about the Commission's work on promoting and protecting rights in Ireland.
Watch for details.

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