Equality Commission for Northern Ireland


The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is an independent public body. Its remit and responsibilities include:
• promoting equality of opportunity and affirmative action
• working towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and harassment
• keeping relevant legislation under review
• promoting good relations between persons of different racial groups and good disability practice
• overseeing the effectiveness of statutory equality duties on public authorities

Brief history


The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland was established in 1999, taking over responsibilities of Commissions duty with single strand issues going back to 1976. Its powers and duties derive from a number of statutes which have been enacted over the last decades, providing protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, race, religion and political opinion, sex and sexual orientation. It also has responsibilities in respect of the statutory equality and good relations duties which apply to public authorities.
The Commission’s vision is of a society in Northern Ireland where there is equality for all and a common understanding of the benefits of a more equal society. The Commission’s mission is to improve people’s lives through the effective implementation of its statutory responsibilities.


Mandate Type

Predominantly promotion-type and legal support body

Litigation power:

  • Formally deciding on complaints (e.g. decision or recommendation addressed to the parties) Not legally binding


2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups ( e.g. through trainings )
Activities aimed at supporting duty bearers such as employers and service providers (e.g. through trainings, guidance material, practical support, etc.)
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)
Recommendations on discrimination issues
Publications and reports
Research projects (including surveys)

Our institution has a mandate to deal with:

  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Other statistics:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)295832429518458196881883319510
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)31527426431528629138144133
Number of media appearances per year (major newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, TV + radio channels) - does not include social media475428499314918503


  • Collegiate headed equality body (led by a distinct board/commission)

Management details

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is governed by a board of Commissioners consisting of a Chief Commissioner, Deputy Chief Commissioner and up to 18 other Commissioners. Commissioners set the overall strategic direction for the organisation, set the policy framework and oversee the delivery of the planned work. With the exception of the Chief Commissioner who works four days a week, all Commissioners are part time and are appointed for a three-year term. The Chief Executive ensures that the Commission’s staff and resources are deployed to deliver the annual Business Plan.

Additional details

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is sponsored by The ‘Executive Office’ which carries responsibilities for equality policy and legislation in the Northern Ireland Executive.
The Commission’s staff are led by its Chief Executive and work in four core divisions: Advice & Compliance, Legal, Policy & Research, Communications & Promotion and Corporate Services.

Procedure for nomination and appointment of management and board

Commissioner vacancies are advertised every three years and appointments are made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. All staff, including the Chief Executive are directly recruited by the Commission.

Number of staff dealing with equality issues

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body

Grounds / Fields Employment Education Housing Social Protection & Healthcare Goods and Services Other
Gender Identity
Race and Ethnic Origin
Sexual Orientation
Religion & Belief
Other grounds:

Healthcare is covered in most pieces of legislation but we would need a definition of social protection as it may not be covered in its entirety.

Mandate covers:

  • Public sector
  • Private sector

Operating budget in euros

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

We are accountable to

  • The Executive Office (Regional Government Department)