Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Ireland – Why the Constitution?

Constitutional ConventionWe are delighted to welcome this post from Katie Boyle on economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights in the Irish Constitution. Katie is a PhD student at the University of Limerick and an ESRC Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. She is also a solicitor and has previously advised state departments and parliamentary bodies on human rights compliance. Katie has lectured in both Ireland and the UK on International Human Rights, Public Law and Constitutional Law. Continue reading “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Ireland – Why the Constitution?”

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Ireland – Why the Constitution?

A Right to Health Care in Ireland?

Human Rights in Ireland is pleased to welcome this guest post from Rosalind McKenna, Human Rights in Ireland Coordinator, Amnesty International Ireland as part of Human Rights Week 2012.

Twenty-three years have passed since Ireland became Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Twenty three years of successive governments failing to domestically incorporate the Covenant into Irish law, or otherwise reflect the commitments undertaken in policy or practice.

In the absence of a commitment to constitutionally protect these rights, Amnesty International Ireland has been examining how legislation can be used to advance policy in line with international human rights standards. The Irish Human Rights Commission has outlined the advantages to protecting rights in legislation; these standards defining minimum core content of the right, stipulating financial arrangements for the delivery of rights, promoting accountability by prescribing exact responsibilities and functions of different levels of government, and preventing / prohibiting violations by public bodies or officials.

In particular, we are campaigning for legislation to drive forward the implementation of mental health policy, and to underpin forthcoming healthcare reform.

For nearly 30 years Ireland has been striving to reform its mental health services, with change slow and accountability inadequate. Successive government policies have called for fundamental reform of the mental health system (Planning for the Future (1984) and A Vision for Change (2006)). A Vision for Change called for a person-centred, recovery-oriented and holistic approach to mental health services. It called for a shift from the existing system, with an over-reliance on institutional care, to a system of community-based care provided by multi-disciplinary teams.

Human rights law demands that mental health services be continuously improved in line with Continue reading “A Right to Health Care in Ireland?”

A Right to Health Care in Ireland?

Ireland to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Department of Foreign Affairs has announced that Ireland is to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). This is a welcome decision by the Government, though no date has been set for ratification. In many ways ratification is the most important step as it enables individuals to rely on the Optional Protocol, however the decision to sign the Protocol should be welcomed. The ICESCR was opened for signature, alongside its companion treaty, the International Covenant for Civil and Poltical Rights (ICCPR) in 1966 and came into operation in 1976. The decision to separate these rights is rooted in both Cold War politics and the belief of some states at the time and currently that Economic, Social and Cultural Rights should not have the same enforcement mechinisms and are of a different character to their Civil and Political Rights counterparts. This stance is also reflected in the status of the section on the Directive Principles on Social Policy in the Irish Constitution.

Ireland signed the ICCPR in 1973 and ratified it in 1989. In the same year, Ireland also ratified the ICCPR’s Optional Protocol, which allows individuals to take claims to the ICCPR’s attached Committee. The Optional Protocol for the ICESCR was not open for signature until 2008. ICESCR’s Optional Protocol also allows individuals to take complaints based on the treaty to its attached Committee (CESCR). Continue reading “Ireland to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”

Ireland to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Human Rights and Irish (Political) Cultural Change

At last weeks first birthday workshop on human rights in Ireland, Fergus Ryan from DIT, suggested that the crucial problem for human rights activists in Ireland was that decisions at the ECHR or Supreme Court were seen as the end of the story, ignoring what he called the ‘cultural change’ necessary for successful human rights action. He argued that you cannot adduce this or that ECHR decision in a political argument and expect that to be the end of the matter. Rather, it is necessary for people to culturally buy-in to human rights. To this point, Mark Kelly of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties asked; how long do we have to wait for cultural change. I want to suggest that Continue reading “Human Rights and Irish (Political) Cultural Change”

Human Rights and Irish (Political) Cultural Change