World Mental Health Day

Today in World Mental Health Day – and it provides us in Ireland with a lot to think about in terms of the way in which mental health services are provided and how our mental health laws are constituted.  The key policy document on mental health is entitled “A Vision for Change” and the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which was established to monitor its implementation have been very critical to date in their five annual reports on the lack of progress in implementation.  See here.  In its most recent report it was critical of the absence of a recovery ethos within mental health services.  This is a major challenge that has to be addressed as principles of recovery are at the core of the philosophy underpinning “A Vision for Change”.  While there is much to be dismayed about we are at an important crossroads in Ireland in relation to our mental health laws.  The Department of Health is in the process of reviewing of the Mental Health Act 2001, while the Department of Justice is similarily reviewing the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.  This provides a significant opportunity to rethink our mental health laws in light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the Government is working towards Continue reading “World Mental Health Day”

World Mental Health Day

Disability as a Human Rights Issue in General Election 2011

This is a joint post with Charles O’Mahony and Mary Keogh.

Following on from Mairead Enright and Darren O’Donovan’s posts about human rights and equality as election issues in political party manifestos, this post will focus specifically on the key policy issues affecting people with disabilities, which have, to a large extent, been overlooked in the election debate thus far. Maman Poulet has also provided an excellent analysis of the main parties manifestos in relation to disability issues, and this post will build on this analysis to suggest concrete areas for action which should be addressed by the incoming government in their next programme for government. In addition, some insight will be provided on responses to many of these issues given by election candidates at last week’s Lifecourse Institute – Critical Perspectives event in NUI Galway. In advance of the political event, a critical perspectives paper was prepared setting out key issues for the incoming government to consider.

Continue reading “Disability as a Human Rights Issue in General Election 2011”

Disability as a Human Rights Issue in General Election 2011

UK Plans to Reduce DNA Databases

We welcome this guest post on the issue of DNA Databases from David O’Dwyer, doctoral student at the Centre for Criminal Justice at the University of Limerick, whose research is funded by the IRCHSS.

Hundreds of thousands of DNA profiles on the UK National DNA database will be deleted, the UK coalition government has finally announced. Under the UK Government’s Protection of Freedoms Bill proposals (see Cian Murphy’s recent excellent blog on the issue, here), police will no longer be able to retain the DNA profile of most people who are arrested but not subsequently convicted. Continue reading “UK Plans to Reduce DNA Databases”

UK Plans to Reduce DNA Databases

Rectify Basic Failures of the Irish Political Process

The issue of reforming the political system is a live one at present and, as we look forward to a general election and the opportunities that it might bring, it is indeed important to consider the changes that might be made to our political system so as to increase its efficiency, its transparency, and its ability to properly represent the interests of the Irish people.

This post does not put forward any radical suggestions for change, but pleads, instead, for our future political representatives and legislators to consider two related basic points:

1. Legislation is not the answer to everything; and

2. Rushing through significant legislative proposals without appropriate time for discussion is both disrespectful to the political process and reckless in terms of their impact.

While my focus here is on the criminal justice system, most of what I have to say may equally apply to other parts of Irish society. Continue reading “Rectify Basic Failures of the Irish Political Process”

Rectify Basic Failures of the Irish Political Process

General Election 2011: Register to Vote

UPDATE: The Taoiseach has confirmed that a general election will be called once the budgetary process has been completed, i.e. once all necessary legislation has been passed to give effect to the measures announced in the budget.

UPSATE #2: The Journal.ie carries details of the official advice re voter registration here

The Green Party has just held a press conference announcing that they are calling for a general election in the second half of January 2011 (RTÉ report). It seems that they will support the budget, see through the IMF/EU negotiations and then pull out of government. This means that ensuring you are registered to vote is vital. You can check the register on www.checktheregister.ie; the register will close this Thursday therefore time is of the essence. If you are not on the register you can get registered through using this form. The new register will come into effect in February 2011, which will likely be too late. Therefore you can use the supplemental register (details on Maman Poulet).

  • If you are a student living away from home contact your university/college SU who will be able to help you with registration on the supplementary register so that you can vote where you study if you are concerned that (as usual) the election will be called on a weekday and you will not be able to get home for college/financial reasons to vote.
  • If you are an Irish citizen living abroad please remember that you can register to vote at your ‘home address’ in Ireland but must then return home to vote. If you can afford it all, please do consider coming home to vote. This may well be the most important election in a generation.
  • If you are a UK citizen residing in Ireland please remember that you have a vote in general elections and ensure that you are registered.
  • If you are a registered voter please remember to use your vote.

Who you vote for is of course a private matter, but elections are the primary accountability mechanism in a democracy. As I said this morning, democracy cannot be passive: check that you have a vote, and use it. It is your right.

Please pass this information on to all those with a voting right in Irish general elections.

General Election 2011: Register to Vote

UK General Election: 5 Human Rights Questions

Several weeks ago Liam, Máiread and I introduced you to the various manifestos for the upcoming UK General Election (see Labour, Liberal Democrats, Conservative and alternative manifesto commentaries). The various manifestos can be downloaded in PDF form at these locations: Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. Throughout the past few weeks, human rights have not featured heavily in popular debate despite being implicitly discussed through the key issues of the the economy, crime and justice, education, health care, immigration and the relationship with the EU. As the General Election looms large at the end of next week, it’s worth reconsidering five key human rights issues. Below, I ask the questions, examine the manifestos and offer some thoughts you might use to challenge your candidate over the next few days. Continue reading “UK General Election: 5 Human Rights Questions”

UK General Election: 5 Human Rights Questions