This page provides information related to equality reviews conducted by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. Under our founding statute, we hold the power to invite private or public organisations to carry out a review of equality of opportunity generally, or a particular aspect of discrimination under Ireland’s anti-discrimination laws.
Section 32 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality 2014 Act gives the Commission statutory powers in relation to the carrying out of Equality Reviews and the preparation of Equality Action Plans.
An Equality Review or Equality Action Plan may relate to equality of opportunity generally, or a particular aspect of discrimination, within an organisation or organisations (public or private sector). They are requested to carry out Equality Reviews and the focus of the reviews are a matter within the discretion of the Commission, having regard to its areas of focused work and its strategic priorities.
In non-legal terms Equality Reviews are a means for an organisation to benchmark, or audit, its practices against its obligations under equality law in order to assess whether the organisation, as a service provider, is fulfilling its statutory obligations to ensure equality of opportunity, or an absence of discrimination.
Equality is about people having equal opportunities to participate in important life activities, like working and learning. Discrimination is a set of behaviours or practices that prevent people from having equal opportunities. It includes situations when someone is treated less favourably than another person because of stereotypes or prejudices about age, gender or race, for example.
Under Ireland’s equality laws, the terms ‘equality’ and ‘discrimination’ also have specific legal meanings, responsibilities and consequences for employers and service providers, such as businesses, schools or public bodies.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was established on 1 November 2014 as the independent statutory body to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland. We have a specific role to work to combat discrimination and promote equal opportunities in the areas covered by the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and the Equal Status Acts 2000-2018.
There are nine specific categories of people covered under Irish equality and anti-discrimination law. In the area of housing discrimination, there is an additional category (housing assistance). These are called protected grounds. Generally, discrimination occurs where one person is treated less favourably than another person in a comparable situation, because they differ under any of the following grounds:
Some of the accounts of the Equality Reviews and Equality Actions Plans published here reference the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty. All public bodies in Ireland have responsibility to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect the human rights of their employees, customers, service users and everyone affected by their policies and plans. This is a statutory obligation, called the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty, and it originated in Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014. More information on the Public Sector Duty.
In 2019, the Commission invited each of the 31 local authorities in the State to undertake a review of their provision of Traveller accommodation. The equality reviews focus on failures nationally to draw down ring fenced capital budget to meet obligations on Traveller specific accommodation. The local authorities were invited to conduct a review of the practices, procedures and other relevant factors in relation to the drawdown of capital funding and the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation services.
An account of each of these Equality Reviews is published below in relation to 30 local authorities.
In relation to the 31st local authority, Roscommon Co Co was provided with a draft copy of the account of its Equality Review in advance of publication and correspondence is continuing between the Council and the Commission in relation to this account.
These equality review accounts comprise three sections, namely:
*Roscommon County Council, like every local authority, was provided with a draft copy of the account of its Traveller Accommodation Equality Review in advance of publication. Correspondence is continuing between the Council and the Commission in relation to its account.
In 2018 the Commission invited each of the four local authorities in Dublin to undertake an Equality Review and an Equality Action Plan in respect of non-Irish nationals’ (EEA nationals and non-EEA nationals) access to social housing services and to promote equality of opportunity for EEA and non-EEA nationals in respect of access to social housing, as well as to homeless services.
The four Local Authorities (Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council) were tasked to audit, considering their obligations under Ireland’s equality legislation, the level of equality of opportunity for people in accessing social housing services as set out in section 19 of the Housing Act 2009, and people’s access to homeless services governed by section 10 of the Housing Act 1988.
The Local Authorities were also tasked under the Equality Review to examine their practices and procedures for the provision of accommodation services to non-Irish nationals (EEA and non-EEA) to determine whether these practices and procedures promoted equality of opportunity in line with their equality obligations under the Equal Status Acts.
The four local authorities have engaged with the Commission in these processes since 2018. In concluding the process, the Commission asked each of the four local authorities the following :
Dublin City Council (DCC) reports that where a provision of the Circular is contrary to EU law, DCC will uphold EU law and disapply the Circular. DCC states that the Circular is not used as guidance to assess applications for homeless services. An account of the DCC Equality Review and Action Plan is available below.
Fingal Couty Council (FCC) reports that that it does not use Circular 41/2012 as the basis for assessment for social housing supports for non- Irish nationals. FCC reports that it does not use Circular 41/2012 in relation to non- Irish nationals accessing homeless services. An account of the FCC Equality Review and Action Plan is available below.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) has advised the Commission that it is currently considering the matter of the application of the Circular to non-Irish nationals who seek access to social housing and that they will respond in due course. DLRCC reports that the Circular is not used as guidance to assess applications for homeless services. An account of the DLRCC Equality Review and Action Plan is available below.
South Dublin County Council (SDCC) submitted its Equality Review in September 2018 and ‘A More Inclusive County – South Dublin County Council’s Integration Strategy’ as its’ Equality Action Plan in June 2019. SDDC like each of the four Dublin local authorities, was provided with a draft copy of the account of its Equality Review and Equality Action Plan, in respect of access to social housing and homeless service, in advance of publication.
In 2018, the Commission invited the HSE to carry out an Equality Review focused on three identified clinics that provide addiction treatments (two of the clinics are in Dublin with the other located in Carlow).
The Equality Review focused on the manner in which drug testing was carried out in these clinics around the direct supervision of urine samples by clinical staff, and the implications of this reported practice for the service users’ dignity.
The HSE provided an Equality Review report in December 2018, which set out that:
In 2019, the Commission invited the HSE to prepare and implement an Equality Action Plan to ensure the practice of non-direct supervision of urine samples is rolled out in addiction treatment services nationally.
In 2020, the Commission decided that the HSE’s response to the invitations to conduct an Equality Review and an Equality Action Plan was satisfactory.
An account of the HSE’s Equality Review and Equality Action Plan is available below.
In April 2018, the Commission invited the Health Service Executive (the ‘HSE’) to undertake an Equality Review, having regard to the HSE’s obligations under the Equal Status Acts (the ‘ESA’), to examine the treatment of non-Irish nationals who are entitled to free GP services and who cannot speak English, or have limited English, in accessing those services.
The HSE was asked to review its practices, procedures and other relevant factors in relation to the provision of interpretation services to these service-users, again having regard to the HSE’s obligations under the ESA. This invitation focused on Community Healthcare West, an area covering counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
The Commission received the HSE’s Equality Review in September 2018 and an account of the HSE’s Equality Review is available below.
In January 2019, the HSE was invited to prepare and implement an Equality Action Plan to ensure the implementation of the findings of the Equality Review undertaken in respect of HSE Community Healthcare West.
In its invitation to the HSE the Commission outlined that, at a basic level, an Equality Action Plan should address the following broad matters:
The final Equality Action Plan was received by the Commission in June 2022 and an account of the HSE’s Equality Action Plan is available below.