The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has this month published its’ 2021 Annual Report to the Houses of the Oireachtas, marking its seventh full year of work as Ireland’s national human rights and equality body.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State. Article 28 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 provides for the Commission to prepare an annual report to include information on the performance of the functions of the Commission during the period to which the report relates, and to lay it before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The Annual Report 2021 highlights include:
Direct Public Queries to the Commission’s Your Rights service
The Commission received 1,811 individual queries, compared to 1,732 in the previous year.
For people seeking asylum and international protection two major obstacles blocking access to work were removed; firstly, being able to open bank accounts, secured in May and secondly, being able to apply for driving licences, secured in December.
The Commission used its’ legal powers widely, including to contribute in the Courts to Mary Harney and Philomena Lee’s successful challenge of the Final Report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.
The Commission concluded an unprecedented 33 Equality Reviews, including 31 with all local authorities in the country on the provision of Traveller Specific Accommodation.
Growth in the Commission
The Commission took on a new role as Ireland’s Independent Rapporteur for Human Trafficking under EU law.
Work began as the new Dedicated Mechanism with Northern Ireland equality/rights bodies to tackle all-island rights and equality issues stemming from Brexit.
Research Evidence for Policy Progress
The Commission brought forward new research with Trinity College Dublin on Ireland’s Emergency Powers During the Covid-19 Pandemic and 2 research reports published with The Economic and Social Research Institute focused on provision of decent work and access to adequate housing.
Funding of €350,000 was provided through the 6th year of IHREC’s Human Rights and Equality Grants Scheme to 28 projects nationally.
Challenging Racism through public awareness
The Commission progressed public awareness work in its’ “All Human All Equal” #AllAgainstRacism campaign, and formed a partnership with Hot Press magazine to share the voices of 100 well-known people discussing racism, including Bob Geldof, Denise Chaila, Sinéad O’Connor and President Michael D Higgins.
Influencing Policy and Practice
The Commission made ten parliamentary appearances before the Oireachtas and Northern Ireland Assembly covering a diverse range of topics, including online safety, direct provision, Mother & Baby Homes, cross-border rights post-Brexit, Traveller Accommodation provision and disability rights.
The full report is available here