Ireland: “Budget cuts put human rights at risk”
Strasbourg, 15/09/11 –
“Budget cuts planned in Ireland may be detrimental for the protection of
human rights. It is crucial to avoid this risk, in particular regarding
vulnerable groups of people” said the Council of Europe Commissioner for
Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, releasing today a
following his visit to Ireland carried out from 1 to 2 June 2011.
Noting administrative reforms to make government less costly, the
Commissioner stresses the importance of national human rights structures
and calls on the authorities to protect their independence and
effectiveness, refraining from adopting budget cuts and staff reductions
which would limit the capacity and effectiveness of these institutions.
The Commissioner notes the robust legal and institutional framework in
place to combat discrimination, racism and xenophobia. However he
remains concerned that still no legislative change has taken place to
ensure that transgender persons enjoy accurate legal recognition.
Welcoming the on-going discussion on the recognition of the Traveller
community as an ethnic minority group, the Commissioner urges the
authorities to strengthen efforts to promote their integration, in
particular by ensuring quality education, political participation and
In spite of the continuous efforts in the context of the National
Disability Strategy, progress made in the area of mental health remains
slow. “The authorities should step up their efforts as pledged and
invest in community care. They should also ensure that people with
disabilities are not adversely affected by the budget crisis, in
particular in terms of health care and social services.”
Commissioner Hammarberg is worried by allegations of neglect and abuse
of older people residing in privatised care homes. “Investigations into
such allegations should be conducted also with a view to strengthening
the protection of residents of care homes in the future. The more the
aging population increases, the more important it becomes that social
protection systems, health care, housing policies and also
anti-discrimination legislation including in the labour market, are
suitable for older people”. The Commissioner welcomes the establishment
of an inter-departmental committee to investigate possible human rights
violations committed in the church-run Magdalene Laundries institutions,
in which women and girls were involuntarily confined between 1922 and
1996 under apparently very harsh conditions. He encourages the
authorities to quickly put in place restorative measures for the victims
and to promote reconciliation.
The Commissioner appreciates the government’s efforts in fostering
children’s rights and considers that anchoring the principle of the
“best interests of the child” in the Irish Constitution, as well as a
complete ban on corporal punishment will strengthen child protection in
Ireland. He commends the authorities’ commitment to ending the
imprisonment of 16 and 17 year old boys in the outdated prison of St.
Patrick’s and recommends that the authorities begin the process soon
with a pilot group.
Finally, the Commissioner urges the Irish authorities to improve and
simplify the asylum and immigration system, ensuring transparent, speedy
decision-making subject to judicial review, and taking into account
internationally agreed principles, such as the right to respect for
family life and the best interests of the child. In this context, the
Commissioner welcomes the increased care for separated asylum-seeking
children and reiterates his recommendation to assign a guardian to each
separated child to enhance protection.
The Irish authorities’ comments are appended to the Report.
Press contact in the Commissioner’s Office:
Stefano Montanari, +33 (0)6 61 14 70 37;
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