The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has today launched its Annual Report to the Houses of the Oireachtas. The report marks significantly increased activity for the Commission during its fourth full year of work as Ireland’s national human rights and equality body, directly accountable to the Oireachtas.
In launching the report, Chief Commissioner Emily Logan highlighted specifically the issue of housing, and the increased level and types of discrimination being experienced in Ireland.
In her speech launching the Annual Report to the Houses of the Oireachtas, Chief Commissioner Emily Logan stated:
“The crises in direct provision and in housing lay bare just how much further we have to go to eliminate discrimination and violations of human rights in Ireland. They also show how much our state remains wedded to approaches that we know from experience simply do not work.
Specifically, in relation to the Commission’s significant legal activity, Chief Commissioner Emily Logan stated:
“Our engagement with the Courts is a crucial means by which we can ensure that the human rights and equality consideration of legal cases are clearly articulated and brought to bear on court deliberations. We took on new applications for legal assistance across multiple grounds including age discrimination, disability, family status, housing assistance and membership of the Traveller Community.”
As amicus curiae (friend of the court) the Commission in 2018 sought liberty to intervene in seven new sets of proceedings across a range of important human rights and equality questions and were granted liberty in all of them.
The Commission grants of legal advice or legal representation in new cases grew by 40% from the previous year seeing a range of cases taken up relating to discrimination and human rights issues.
Successful outcomes in legal representation cases during 2018 included:
The Commission brought forward four new pieces of statistical research with the ESRI to provide a clear evidential base to ground the development of equality and human rights policy on:
On combatting online hate speech in an Irish context, significant new research from DCU was also published with the Irish Research Council (IRC) analysing online racist hate speech and its reporting with an international event.
The Commission Director, Laurence Bond, is a member of the Equinet Executive Board, having been elected in November 2017 for a two-year term. During 2018 Commission staff also participated in the ongoing work of Equinet through the Communication and Policy Formation Working Groups.
Staff also attended the following Equinet events during 2018:
In March 2018 in its role as Ireland’s National Equality Body, the Commission welcomed the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet) to Dublin for a conference on socio-economic rights and social exclusion. The conference titled ‘Poverty and Discrimination: Two Sides of the Same Coin’, focused on the links between poverty and discrimination. Among the topics considered by the conference was the role of socio-economic status as a discrimination ground.