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As Covid-19 brings us further into uncharted territory, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission met to continue its consideration of the implications of the crisis on human rights and equality. 

We recommended close parliamentary oversight over recently-introduced emergency legislation; for information on the implementation of new policing powers; and for particular consideration of the impact of the crisis on vulnerable groups.

Separately, we have written to the leaders of Ireland's political parties to ensure human rights and equality are central to the next Programme for Government. 

The Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee also met this month to discuss issues affecting people with disabilities during the public health emergency.

The deadline of 4pm, 19 May is fast approaching for applications to the Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme 2020-21.

We are also currently recruiting for a junior solicitor to join our legal team. The deadline for applications is 3pm, 7 May.

Finally, highlighted below are a number of resources for people at home to find out more about human rights and equality issues in Ireland. 

Read on for the latest on our work for a just and inclusive Ireland. 


Greater oversight needed over emergency powers

Following its meeting on 24 April, the Commission issued a statement on Covid-19 oversight in respect of human rights and equality.

The statement focuses on three matters:

  • The need for more detailed data on the implementation of emergency powers including police powers.
  • A call for parliamentary oversight of the implementation of emergency legislation.
  • A commitment to keep the emergency legislation under review.

We believe that the most appropriate oversight mechanism is an Oireachtas Committee on Human Rights, Equality and Diversity, which would have the requisite cross-departmental mandate to examine the legal, social and economic rights implications of Covid-19.

The Commission has previously stated that it believes that emergency actions to protect individual lives and public health during this emergency should be necessary, proportionate and non-discriminatory, and should be informed by human rights and equality principles.

The COVID-19 crisis is a challenge for the whole country, but it impacts some members of our society more acutely than others.

Tony Geoghegan, Acting Chief Commissioner
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Programme for Government

Put human rights and equality at heart of next Government

With negotiations underway on Government formation, the Commission wrote to the leaders of each of the political parties on building progress on human rights and equality into the next Programme for Government.

The letter details four recommendations:
  • Reform legislation to positively promote rights and prevent discrimination. 
  • Implement the Public Sector Human Rights and Equality Duty across all public bodies in systemic approach.
  • Continue to reform Ireland’s system for applicants for international protection.
  • Provide for ratification of outstanding international treaties. 

It also calls on party leaders to prioritise human rights and equality in the context of Ireland's evolving relationship with the United Kingdom.

We are ready to assist members of the Oireachtas and Government in this, our shared endeavour.

Commission letter on Goverment formation
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Disability rights during pandemic

At its most recent virtual meeting (pictured above), the Disability Advisory Committee raised wide-ranging concerns with the Commission on the impact of Covid-19 on the rights of people with disabilities.

Emerging issues included:

  • The accessibility of healthcare testing and treatment services.
  • The accessibility of public health information.
  • The heavy human cost in nursing homes and residential care settings.
  • The specific risk faced by Deaf and disabled Travellers in poor living conditions. 

Committee Members called for Government recovery plans to focus on the dignity of disabled people, in particular people experiencing diminished autonomy and independence.

They also stressed that plans for a gradual lifting of restrictions must be inclusive of disabled people at higher risk of serious illness from the virus.

The Committee assists the Commission in its formal role in monitoring Ireland’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Learn more

Grant Scheme 2020-21
19 May deadline approaching for Grant Scheme

The Commission has extended the deadline for applications to our Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme 2020 until Tuesday 19 May at 4pm

The Commission will award small grants of up to €6,000 and general grants of up to €20,000 to support activities that empower people facing discrimination and human rights violations with the knowledge, skills and information necessary to vindicate their rights. 

Now in its fifth year, grants are available to civil society organisations, rights-holder and community-led groups, as well as trade unions from across Ireland.
To promote access to rights and access to justice, the Commission wishes to support and empower rights-holders to understand and claim their rights.

Please contact us at with any queries.

Full details of the grant scheme, with the new deadline (19 May, 4pm) are available on our grants webpage. 

It's our decisions, our choices, our voice.

Tamara Byrne and Orla O'Reilly, Advocates, Inclusion Ireland (pictured above with Barry Lynch, Inclusion Ireland)
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Apply now for a junior solicitor position

Want to join our legal team? An opportunity now exists in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for a junior solicitor who will have direct responsibility for a litigation brief.

The role will involve assisting in the delivery of the Commission’s compliance and enforcement functions.

Recruitment is managed by the Public Appointments Service.

The deadline for applications is 3pm, Thursday, 7th May 2020.
Learn more

Learn at home
Human rights and equality resources

Browse resources to learn all about human rights and equality issues in Ireland.
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