On June 22 2015, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued their concluding observations on Ireland’s compliance with obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). You can access the concluding observations of the Committee here. Ireland’s next report under ICESCR will not be considered until 2020 at the earliest.
Positive Aspects (paras. 3-5)
The Committee commended Ireland in a number of respects, relating to accession to a variety of international instruments and recent developments in terms of marriage equality, establishing the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and various strategies on poverty prevention, social inclusion and mental health.
Principle Subjects of Concern (paras 6 -38)
The Committee has expressed concerns surrounding the following:
- Non domestic applicability of ICESCR (para. 7);
- The State should recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority (para. 32);
- Recommends that the Legal Aid Scheme in Ireland be widened and additional resources be provided to the Legal Aid Board (para. 8);
- The State should engage more widely with civil society organisations when adopting changes in legislation, policy etc. (para. 10)
- The State should conduct a review of the measures adopted during the period of austerity, plan for the phasing out of these measures; review its taxation and spending policies and consider instituting a human rights impact assessment of its policies (para. 12)
- Alternatives to institutionalised care for persons with disabilities must be considered by Ireland (para. 13);
- In terms of asylum seekers: the Government should expediate the International Protection Bill, and also improve the poor living conditions for persons in direct provision and overall Ireland has to take steps to improve reception conditions for asylum seekers (para. 13);
- Ireland should amend Article 41.2 of the Constitution (para. 15).
- The Committee is concerned at high unemployment, in particular amongst vulnerable groups. The State should introduce targeted measures to combat this, in particular for Travellers, Roma and persons with disabilities (para. 16).
- The minimum wage is too low and does not ensure a sufficient standard of living for a worker and their families and consider legislation to ensure just and favourable conditions of work in a number of areas (para. 17);
- There should be “a prompt, thorough and independent investigation” into forced labour in the Magdelene Laundries (para. 18).
- Initial social welfare decisions need to be made in a fair and transparent manner, and is concerned that the habitual residence condition disproportionately impacts on already marginalised groups (paras. 20-21).
- The State needs to increase its efforts as regards poverty prevention, hunger and malnutrition, in particular amongst marginalised groups in society (paras. 24-25).
- The State needs to give consideration to ensure adequate housing, including protecting those in mortgage arrears, those at risk of homelessness, increasing rent supplement, effective complaints mechanisms for local authority tenants, and providing Travellers and Roma with culturally appropriate accommodation (para. 26).
- Healthcare services and mental health services need to be delivered in a rights compliant manner (paras 27-28). The Committee recommends that Ireland take “all necessary steps, including a referendum on abortion, to revise its legislation on abortion” (para. 29).
- The Committee is concerned at the permissibility of discrimination as regards school admissions for a number of groups and recommends that admissions criteria adopt a human rights framework (para. 30).