Ireland goes before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

UN imageOn Monday, June 8th and Tuesday, June 9th 2015, Ireland will have its third periodic report under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), assessed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. You can follow this examination on Twitter, using the hashtag #UNIRL

What are economic, social and cultural rights?

The right to work, just conditions of employment, the right to social security and social assistance, the right to health, housing, food and water, encompass core aspects of socio-economic rights. Cultural rights include the right to participate in the culture of one’s communities and to enjoy the benefits of scientific and technological endeavour. These rights (and others) are protected in ICESCR.

Ireland before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

To date, Ireland has had two periodic reports (1999 and 2002) considered by the UN Committee. On both occasions, the Committee have expressed concern that Ireland has not incorporated ICESCR into domestic law, and the lack of reference and utilisation of ICESCR by the superior courts. Ireland has failed to adopt rights based frameworks in areas of anti-poverty, disability provision of health-care, rights of members of the Traveller community, housing and the low rate of social assistance payments. CESCR identified some core issues with Ireland’s compliance with its obligations under ICESCR in December 2014, and the list of issues to be discussed bear striking similarities to concerns previously expressed by CESCR in their 1999 and 2002 Concluding Observations. (See, Ireland’s response to these issues here). Continue reading “Ireland goes before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”

Ireland goes before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

From the Mediterranean to the Emerald Isle: Ireland’s Role in Upholding the Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

MedNancy Roe is a Social Work and Masters Graduate from Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Graduating with a BSS in Social Work, she went on to complete a Masters in Race Ethnicity and Conflict (TCD) in 2014. She has since worked as a Social Worker and as an Intern with the Irish Refugee Council. This short reflection was written during this Internship.

Every day, refugees flee war, poverty and persecution and make long dangerous voyages over sea, often on make-shift boats, smuggled below deck, in the hope of reaching safety in Europe.

The recent refugee humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean has received much media coverage. The exposure of the atrocities in the Mediterranean (20 April 2015), where 800 refugees died, men, women and children, including Syrians, Eritreans and Somalia’s, has generated a platform for discussion, whereby Europe’s borders, policies and humanitarian responses are under scrutiny on the international stage. UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards noted that approximately 1,300 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean in the month of April alone (the total figure this year is approximately 1,776).

Political leaders and representatives in Europe, and elsewhere around the world are being forced to publicly address the issue. Irish President, Michael D Higgins condemned the European response to the crisis. He suggested that we can have a generous Europe based on human values, or one that has within its borders, racism, xenophobia and exclusion.

Two days after this atrocity, Mr Higgins visited Turkey and Lebanon, attending the 100th anniversary commemorations of Gallipoli. Reflecting upon the deaths and victims of World War I, Mr Higgins described “the enormous tragedy of war” as being “linked to “the outrageous aspirations of empire”. He also stated that the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East were still trapped by the “detritus of empire”. A hundred year after Gallipoli, clear parallels can be drawn with regards to the value and respect placed on human life across borders.

Shane O’ Curry, Director of ENAR Ireland advises that the crisis did not begin with the deaths in the Mediterranean, rather “that this crisis is borne out of years of instability in sub-Saharan Africa, north Africa and the Middle East, instability for which some EU countries bear significant responsibility”. O’ Curry urges the Taoiseach in his discussions with other European leaders to show leadership, offer concrete responses, and (quoting Amnesty International) to put people before borders. Continue reading “From the Mediterranean to the Emerald Isle: Ireland’s Role in Upholding the Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers”

From the Mediterranean to the Emerald Isle: Ireland’s Role in Upholding the Rights of Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Maynooth University to Host Seminar on the Rights of Minority Groups on 20th April 2015

Maynooth-University-with-loThe Centre for Rights Recognition and Redistribution, Department of Applied Social Studies & the Department of Law at Maynooth University will run a seminar entitled ‘Promoting & Progressing the Rights of Persons from Minority Groups’ on Monday, April 20th 2015.  The seminar will run from 13.30- 17.00 in Renehan Hall, South Campus, Maynooth University.

International Guest Speakers:

  • Prof. Patrick Thornberry Emeritus Professor of International Law, Keele University (UK) & Former Member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • Prof. Francesco Palermo Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law, University of Verona (Italy) & President of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

The seminar seeks to bring together civil society, government & local authority officials and academics to explore issues and concerns for minorities in Ireland and globally with the foremost international experts in the field. It will provide a framework for international experts and academics to contribute to that discussion, through dialogue with those directly concerned.  The event will be a unique opportunity to:

  • Gain an overview of current Irish, European and Global discourses regarding minorities
  • Discuss different perspectives and strategies to address emerging issues
  • Network and dialogue across all sectors concerned with minority issues

To indicate your interest in attending and to receive further information on the event, please email: or

Maynooth University to Host Seminar on the Rights of Minority Groups on 20th April 2015

#DirectProvision15: The Start of Year 16

DP15_logoCaroline Reid is the Communications Officer, Irish Refugee Council. Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law in UCD

This post concludes the #directprovision15 week long online events. You can access all the blog posts here and can see the Tumblr page here. We would like to express our deep appreciation to all the contributors, in particular those in the direct provision system, for sharing their stories with us. Today marks the start of the 16th year of the direct provision system.

End Direct Provision.

#DirectProvision15: The Start of Year 16

#DirectProvision15: Proximity Mouth at Dublin Castle

DP15_logoThis contribution, from Dominic Thorpe, UCD College of Humanities, artist in residence. This was originally published here

This performance was made in the former children’s court at Dublin Castle. During the performance audience members were given a short tour of the former court by tour guides who have personal experience of the current Direct provision asylum system in Ireland.


DT3Audience members were brought into the room one at a time and had to hold the hand of their tour guide, who told them the history of the court room.


DT1There was a young girl sitting in the part of the room where the judge used to sit. She gave each audience member a sheet of paper containing a list of all the direct provision asylum centres operating in Ireland at the time of the performance. She folded the sheet of paper into an origami aeroplane or boat, depending on the choice of the audience member.

DT2Dominic Thorpe repeatedly made a clicking sound by biting the edge of a large mirror. He used the mirror to make visual reflections of the room and to show people themselves in the room. He also intermittently opened and closed the shutters leaving the room in light or darkness at different points during the performance.


#DirectProvision15: Proximity Mouth at Dublin Castle

#DirectProvision15: The Need for Comprehensive Protection

DP15_logoThis guest post comes from Mehari Fisseha.

Asylum seekers and refugees are one of the most demonised and marginalised social groups in Europe. Ireland’s current agenda for dealing with refugees and asylum seekers is inadequate. The government of Ireland is aware of the inadequacy of response and has proposed to make a number of changes that will improve the standard of living for those who chose to apply for inclusion in Ireland. However, many of the issues that are discussed in the Core Policy Objective: Intercultural & Migration Issues have already been addressed in the set of directives, regulations, and guidance provided by the EU on the topic of immigration and refugee policy. Ireland has opted out of participating in several of these programs, choosing instead to establish its own policies of caring for the disenfranchised who seek refugee status. While change in legislation in Ireland is taking place, it is evolving slowly, and many of today‟s greatest issues are being addressed very cautiously. As a result, many of the humanitarian provisions adopted by the EU are just now being considered by Ireland. This project examines the need for a Comprehensive Refugee Protection and Asylum Seekers Policy in Ireland today.

#DirectProvision15: The Need for Comprehensive Protection

#DirectProvision15: IASW DP Working Group Submission

DP15_logoThe Irish Association of Social Workers is the national organisation of professional social workers in the Republic of Ireland. The IASW is also an active member of the International Federation of Social Workers.

Throughout the country social workers encounter asylum seekers on a daily basis in their work within hospitals, mental health teams, child protection & welfare services, disabilities services, primary care teams and other settings. Recently, the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) endorsed a submission to the Working Group on the Protection Process based on research conducted by Maeve Foreman (TCD) and Muireann Ní Raghallaigh (UCD). Some of the views of social workers can be read here [insert hyperlink to HRI blog by Foreman & Ní Raghallaigh]. In this blog the IASW summarises the submission’s suggestions for change to the DP system. (It should be noted that while many of the research respondents were of the view that direct provision should be abolished, the abolition of DP is outside of the terms of reference of the working group)


  • Ensure that interagency and interdepartmental collaboration between state and non state actors occurs to enable the development of onsite services that could focus on prevention and family support.


  • Employ a Principal Social Worker to work in RIA’s Child and Family Services Unit in order to order to further develop their support services in collaboration with existing agencies.

Continue reading “#DirectProvision15: IASW DP Working Group Submission”

#DirectProvision15: IASW DP Working Group Submission

#DirectProvision15: Children in Direct Provision

DP15_logoFrom an End DP Limerick member, who wishes to remain anonymous. 

Sitting in my kitchen watching my toddler play with a saucepan, spoon and some dried pasta, I feel very privileged. Recently I visited a direct provision centre, one of a number throughout the country where people seeking asylum from persecution are placed by the state while awaiting a decision on their case. There are 1500 children living in these centres. They have no access to a kitchen – the heart of most Irish homes.

Children living in direct provision queue for the meals, along with their parents. They are served three meals a day in a canteen within the centre. Parents living in the centre I visited tell me that their children often can’t eat the food; it’s spicy everyday they say – too spicy for their young palettes. Bananas are given on a Thursday: if your child wants a banana on a Monday, they’ll just have to wait. Parents are provided with baby formula until the child is 1 year old, but when they turn 1, it is taken away – the parents have no choice in this. I ask if there are children’s meals or if any alternative is provided if the children can’t or won’t eat what is offered. I am told there is not. As a parent of two small children this seems like an impossibility to me. While my eldest has gotten better with age, I often have to resort to plans B, C, and D to ensure my incorrigibly stubborn toddler doesn’t starve. Continue reading “#DirectProvision15: Children in Direct Provision”

#DirectProvision15: Children in Direct Provision

#DirectProvision15: Making Visible

DP15_logoThis guest post coincides with today’s moments of silence outside the Department of Justice, making 15 years of direct provision in Ireland. Events are also taking place in Galway and Limerick.
Making Visible – Ceara Conway, Noirin Ni Rian and Veronika Ncube

St Nicholas’s Cathedral, Galway,Ireland
6th January, 2014
One of a series of socially engaged ritual performances by Ceara Conway. Created through a year long process of engagement with Able Women, a group of women seeking asylum in Ireland.
This performance highlights aspects of ‘Able Women’s’ experiences of living within the Direct Provision system in Galway City through voice and lament.
This project was supported by the Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme , managed by Create.

(Film – Flying Knee Productions and Nora Duggan)

#DirectProvision15: Making Visible

#DirectProvision15: UNKNOWN

DP15_logoThis poem comes from Bibly Mosa


I have arrive and concluded the story

But am nervous to roll the scroll.

I will like to say is all over but we just began,

Loved to end it all but my mind is not at rest.

Emotions are dip but saturated with the love of continuity.

How do I phrase the sentence? How can I illustrate that am human.

My life unknown, born alive but live as the dead.

I had a faith which has fade, for life hard so I crack my heard to live.

Words are not far but I eat pictures to be free, because burned mouth has no laugher.

Tree may die but we may try,

For living is text when hands are tied.

Who can tell when it will all end or ever know if the dead feels a pain.

Most don’t care about what they don’t see.

#DirectProvision15: UNKNOWN