Human Rights & the Programme for Government for National Recovery 2011-2016

Nat recovery.jpgFine Gael and the Labour Party have both agreed to enter government as a coalition .  Today, both parties released  the Programme for Government for National Recovery 2011-2016. Enda Kenny T.D. will now become the 14th Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland on Wednesday, 9th March 2011. This post seeks to set down some of the key promises on human rights issues which have been given within the Programme for Government (PfG). For now, I am just categorising some of the core promises (using my own headings) and over the coming days, weeks, months and years of this government, HRiI will continue to provide a human rights analysis of government law and policy:

Social Protection

  • No further cuts to child benefit;
  • Having a constitutional amendment on the rights of the child;
  • Social inclusion to be at the heart of Traveller education;
  • Ensuring equity in access to education;
  • No further cuts in the rates of social welfare;
  • Reversing the recent €1 per hour cut to the minimum wage;
  • Examining whether lower levels of child benefit can be paid to non-resident EU children (whose parent(s) live in Ireland);
  • Removal of child protection from the remit of the HSE and creation of a new Child Protection and Welfare Agency;
  • An examination of pluralism and patronage of the states schools;
  • Supporting older people to live independent lives and a consistent application of rules relating to home helps and access to homes;
  • Achieve the target of 0.7% GDP for overseas development aid by 2015;

Political Reform

  • A referendum on abolition of the Seanad (Senate) and strengthening the role of the Dáil;
  • Banning corporate donations and placing limits on individual political contributions;
  • Introducing a register of lobbyists
  • Putting in place an Investigations, Oversight and Petitions Committee, whose tasks will amongst other things consider petitions from persons relating to public administration;
  • Scrutiny of EU legislation by the Oireachtas, including ensuring principle of subsidiarity. Legislation rather than statutory instruments to be used to transpose EU law; Ministers voting at Council of European Union meetings go before an Oireachtas committee.


  • Those who bought houses from 2004-2008 to get further tax relief;
  • 2 year moratorium for modest family home when honest attempts being made to pay;
  • MABS to become a Personal Debt Management Agency, quasi-judicial status;
  • Examine use of ‘ghost-estates’, including provision for arts, sports and culture of these spaces.
  • Targeted approach to dealing with youth homelessness;
  • Tenancy deposit protection scheme to be introduced so as to ensure fairness regarding return of deposits;
  • Public/social housing tenants to be on 12 months probation and engagement in anti-social behaviour will result in termination of social housing;

Health Reform

  • Single service, based on need and not ability to pay; Health Service Executive will not exist over time; Universal Health Insurance.
  • Mental health reform-integral part of standard health care;
  • Regulation of stem cell research
  • Examine recent ECtHR abortion decision
  • Opt-out for organ donation,


  • Improving victims rights and rights to advice, information and other ‘appropriate assistance’;
  • Put in place legislation to deal with white collar crime;
  • Introduction of a DNA database;
  • Banning Female Genital Mutilation
  • Judicial Council to deal with complaints against the judiciary
  • Sentencing and penal reform, less use of prison for non-serious offences, for sentences under one year, judges obliged to consider Community Services Orders;
  • Attachment orders from pay/social welfare for those who refuse to pay court imposed fines;
  • Post-imprisonment penalties for serious offenders including electronic tagging;
  • Children will not be sent to St. Patrick’s Institution;
  • Constitutional amendment to allow for reduction in judges salaries in line with public sector salary reductions and a constitutional amendment for a distinct and separate system for family courts;
  • Legislating for the use of ‘soft information’ in implementing the Child First guidelines;
  • Modernising family law;
  • Strengthening Freedom of Information legislation;
  • Comprehensive reform of the immigration and asylum system, including sharing of DNA profiles with other EU countries;
  • Promotion of social inclusion for those from minority and immigrant backgrounds.


  • Examine issues of educational access and attainment;
  • Publication, after consultation, of a ‘realistic’ National Disability Strategy;
  • Promotion and support of universal design so that those with disabilities can access all environments ‘to the greatest extent possible’.

Gender & Sex

  • Homophobic bullying to be addressed in schools;
  • LGBT people who teach in schools should be supported;
  • All State boards to have at least 40% of each gender;
  • Legal recognition and extension of equality legislation to transgender persons;
  • Enacting measures relating to taxation and social welfare for those in civil partnerships and addressing anomalies relating to children in the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabiting Couples Act 2010. The issue of same sex marriage will be also be examined.