The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers and Direct Provision in Ireland

The Ethics of Home posterOn 24 June 2014, I spoke at a seminar The Ethic’s of ‘Home’: Direct Provision, Homelessness and Ireland’s Housing Policies.  This seminar, organised by Dr Ronni Greenwood, sought to explore conceptions and meanings of home, in the context of housing and homelessness. My paper, The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers and Direct Provision in Ireland sought to explore the difficulties in rights based approaches to the social and economic rights of asylum seekers, those treated as ‘others’ within and by Irish society.  President Michael D. Higgins, speaking earlier this month, noted:

[T]he national appropriation of ‘human rights’ – their entanglement with citizenship – has given rise to new categories of persons without rights, such as refugees, displaced and stateless persons. How are we to conceive of the rights of these people, whose number is in the millions in the world today?

For at least the third time over the last 12 months, the system of direct provision is currently under sustained media scrutiny (see here, here, here and here). (It should be noted that the system has been under the scrutiny and condemnation from many human rights organisations for the past 14 years). This paper seeks to ponder on whether asylum seekers in Ireland truly enjoy “the right to have rights”. You can access my full paper here: The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers and Direct Provision in Ireland. The slides from my presentation are available here: UL Ethics Seminar-The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers & Direct Provision in Ireland.

 

The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers and Direct Provision in Ireland

The Children's Referendum November 10 2012

Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin

The last 24 hours, if nothing else, has focused the attention of the children’s referendum campaign, not (perish the thought) on the rights of children, but on how the government spent public monies to promote a a Yes vote. It is important to emphasise that the Supreme Court were not in any way expressing an opinion, good, bad or indifferent, to the proposal before the people tomorrow. Rather (and correctly in my view) sought to ensure that public money should not be spent by the government advocating one side in a referendum that would result in a change to the Irish constitution.A relatively lackluster campaign in all, assisted by a lackluster amendment, but one that nevertheless, in my view should be accepted.  The amendment should be accepted because:

 

  1. It will provide further constitutional recognition of the rights of the child, in harmony with the essential and important role of the family in the life of the child already recognised under the Irish Constitution;
  2. In exceptional cases will allow the State to intervene in a proportionate manner where the safety or welfare of a child is prejudically affected;
  3. Will allow the State to equalise adoption laws and allow any child to be placed for adoption;
  4. In proceedings relating to adoption, custody, access to a child, the best interests of the child will be the paramount consideration AND a child capable of forming a view on matters relating to adoption, custody and access, will have their views heard (not necessarily followed) in these proceedings.

A number of groups emerged throughout the campaign arguing for a No vote, Two Rights Now demanding that the government respect and protect certain rights already in the constitution before adopting another amendment. The Alliance of Parents Against the State argue that this amendment will provide unwarranted powers for the State to intervene in the family. Other arguments that have emerged relate to forced vaccination of children (a particular obsession amongst some elements of the No campaign), and being ‘forced’ to pass this referendum due to an interfering EU and UN (Quick, run kids, Ban Ki Moon and Manuel Barroso are coming to get you!)  There were also some worrying trends that emerged in the debate, in particular on the Vincent Browne and RTE Frontline debates.: A hostile attitude to any sort of state intervention whatsoever in the family. With arguments akin to something that has come to dominate US politics, some of those on the No side basically inferring that ‘child snatch panels’ would be established. The current legal regime for removing children from families will remain in place (see generally, Child Care Act 1991 (as amended)). The 1991 Act quite Continue reading “The Children's Referendum November 10 2012”

The Children's Referendum November 10 2012

The Children's Referendum: Explanation and Analysis

Aoife Nolan is Professor of International Human Rights Law in University of Nottingham. Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. Aoife and Liam are organising Human Rights in Ireland’s contribution to the debate on Article 42A, the Children’s Amendment.

The Children’s Referendum is only 11 days away. This post is directed as those who may not have given much thought to the issues addressed in this referendum and who are looking for a primer on the changes to be introduced to the Irish Constitution. As  well as some discussion and analysis of the proposed constitutional amendment, this post will provide you with links to authoritative commentary and discussion on the Children’s Referendum here on the Human Rights in Ireland Blog.

What is a Referendum?

See Sonya Donnelly’s post here that discusses the referendum process.

What are we being asked to decide?

The wording of the proposed constitutional amendment is here. You can also find a discussion and analysis on each of the proposed article insertions into the constitution: Article 42A.1, Article 42A.2.1, Article 42A.2.2, Article 42A.3, Article 42A.4.1 and Article 42A.4.2. You can also find some comment on the Irish wording of Article 42A.

Some thoughts on the Children’s Referendum

Over the last number of weeks, Human Rights in Ireland has hosted a number of posts that have discussed the limits and potential of this proposed Article 42A. Here are these analysis pieces:

Yvonne Daly on St Patrick’s Institution and the Children’s Referendum.

Aoife Nolan providing some background context and thoughts on the Children’s Referendum.

Liam Thornton examined the Oireachtas debates leading up to putting  the amendment before the people. You can also read Liam’s opinion piece in the Irish Times on the Children’s Referendum.

Katie Mannion on behalf of Continue reading “The Children's Referendum: Explanation and Analysis”

The Children's Referendum: Explanation and Analysis

The Children's Referendum: Comment and Analysis

Aoife Nolan is Professor of International Human Rights Law in University of Nottingham. Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. Aoife and Liam are organising Human Rights in Ireland’s contribution to the debate on Article 42A, the Children’s Amendment.

To date, Human Rights in Ireland has considered in detail the Children’s amendment:

Over the next number of weeks, starting today, Human Rights in Ireland will host guest posts regarding the Children’s Amendment.

The Children's Referendum: Comment and Analysis

Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Article 42A Conclusion

Aoife Nolan is Professor of International Human Rights Law in University of Nottingham. Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. Aoife and Liam are organising Human Rights in Ireland’s contribution to the debate on Article 42A, the Children’s Amendment.

It is important that clear, accessible and intelligible information on the proposed Children’s referendum wording is available. We hope that for those not fully clear on the purpose or wording of Article 42A, that the series of blog posts today provides you with a better understanding of the constitutional amendment on children. The decision is ultimately up to Irish citizens as to whether they choose to accept this amendment to the Irish Constitution. Our only task now, is to thank each of the contributors for their blog posts, which are hyper-linked below for easy reference.

Conor O’Mahony on Article 42A.1

Eoin Daly on Article 42A.2.1

Liam Thornton on Article 42A.2.2

Fergus Ryan on Article 42A.3

Ursula Kilkelly on Article 42A.4.1

Aisling Parkes on Article 42A.4.2

Sean O’Conaill on Article 42A and the Irish wording

On Friday, 26th October 2012, Human Rights in Ireland will be providing a platform for a variety of contributors to give their views on the Children’s referendum and Article 42A.

Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Article 42A Conclusion

Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Article 42A.2.2

Dr Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in the School of Law, University College Dublin.

Proposed Article 42A.2.2 provides:

Provision shall be made by law for the adoption of any child where the parents have failed for such a period of time as may be prescribed by law in their duty towards the child and where the best interests of the child so require.

This amendment provides the power for the Oireachtas to further legislate on issues in relation to adoption.

This provision is closely linked with Article 42A.3, which Dr Fergus Ryan discusses in the next post. If passed, it will introduce into the Constitution an explicit mention of the State’s ability to legislate on issues relating to adoption.*

Current Law

Adoption

It should be noted that currently the Oireachtas have the power to legislate on adoption.  The current law adopts different rules concerning  the adoption of children of unmarried parents and the adoption of children from a marital family.  For parents who were unmarried, the natural mother had particular rights to consent ( and to withdraw consent) or be deemed to have consented to the adoption. The role of the natural non-marital father is exceptionally Continue reading “Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Article 42A.2.2”

Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Article 42A.2.2

Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Introduction to Article 42A

Aoife Nolan is Professor of International Human Rights Law in University of Nottingham. Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. Aoife and Liam are organising Human Rights in Ireland’s contribution to the debate on Article 42A, the Children’s Amendment.

There have been concerns in some quarters at the lack of debate on issues relating to the Children’s Referendum (see here and here, however TV3 will be hosting a debate on October 31). The posts today (23/10/2012) seek to summarise the impact of proposed Article 42A. These posts seek to do so in a manner that is accessible to all and without advocating how you should vote.  The following is the schedule of posts that will appear today, between 12.15pm and 3.15pm:

At 12.15pm, Conor O’Mahony (UCC) will outline the provisions of Article 42A.1

At 12.45pm, Eoin Daly (UCD) will outline the provisions of Article 42A.2.1

At 1.15pm, Liam Thornton (UCD) will outline the provisions of Article 42A.2.1

At 1.45pm, Fergus Ryan (DIT) will outline the provisions of Article 42.A.3

At 2.15pm, Ursula Kilkelly (UCC) will outline the provisions of Article 42A.4.1

At 2.45pm, Aisling Parkes (UCC) will outline the provisions of Article 42A.4.2

Finally, at 3.15pm, Seán Ó’Conaill (UCC) will deal with the Irish language text of Article 42A.

It is hoped that these posts will provide you with an accurate and accessible overview of the proposed changes to the Irish Constitution.

Legal Analysis of the Children's Referendum: Introduction to Article 42A

Blog Carnival: The Children's Referendum

Aoife Nolan is Professor of International Human Rights Law in University of Nottingham. Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. Aoife and Liam are organising Human Rights in Ireland’s contribution to the debate on Article 42A, the Children’s Amendment.

On November 10th 2012, a referendum will take place where people will have an opportunity to amend the Irish constitution to provide specific recognition of the constitutional rights of children in the constitution. Over the coming weeks, Human Rights in Ireland will provide expert analysis on the background to the introduction of the children’s amendment, an accessible legal analysis of each of the provisions of proposed Article 42A, and expert analysis and commentary on the children’s amendment. By offering accessible and concise information on the children’s amendment, Human Rights in Ireland seeks to contribute to, and demystify, the debate surrounding the children’s amendment. The provisional schedule for these posts are as follows:

On Wednesday, 17th October posts on the background to the children’s amendment; an explanation of what precisely a referendum is and an analysis of the Oireachtas debates (to date) on the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2012

On Tuesday 23rd October a number of experts on constitutional law, drawn from regular authors to this blog and guest posts, will explain in an accessible manner each of the provisions of the proposed amendment: Article 42A.

On Friday 26th October, Human Rights in Ireland will be hosting a number of posts that will analyse various aspects of the children’s constitutional amendment, offering expert insight and opinion on the role and value of the proposed Article 42A.

The Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2012 proposes to delete Continue reading “Blog Carnival: The Children's Referendum”

Blog Carnival: The Children's Referendum

UPR Symposium: Personal Reflections on the Universal Periodic Review

In this post, Liam Thornton, from Human Rights in Ireland, offers some reflections on the nature and process of the Universal Periodic Review. These reflections do not necessarily represent the views of any of the individuals/organisations who have contributed to this UPR Symposium.

As can be seen from the previous posts, the UPR offers the potential to further highlight areas where Ireland’s protection of human rights may not be fully up to scratch. The UPR process is to complement rather than replace current reporting procedures to UN human rights treaty based bodies. Previous reviews of Ireland’s human rights record at the UN level have uncovered serious issues with Ireland’s human rights protections in civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, women’s rights and issues relating to racial or ethnic discrimination. The various treaty based bodies who have  made observations on Ireland’s compliance with its international legal obligations are primarily composed of human rights experts who reviewed Irish respect for and protection of human rights. The UPR process is  more politicised Continue reading “UPR Symposium: Personal Reflections on the Universal Periodic Review”

UPR Symposium: Personal Reflections on the Universal Periodic Review

The Need to Prioritise Issues for UN Human Rights Review: A Call for Debate

HRiI welcomes back Danielle Kennan who contributes this post in her personal capacity. Aoife’s previous post on the Universal Periodic Review can be accessed here. Human Rights in Ireland will be hosting  a Blog Symposium, entitled Ireland’s Human Rights Priorities and the Universal Periodic Review in late December 2010. The purpose of this symposium will be to engage individuals, voluntary organisations and non-governmental organisations as to what they feel are the priority areas that should form the focus of this upcoming review with regards to Ireland’s protection of human rights.  Interested parties should contact Liam Thornton on lp.thornton[at]ulster.ac.uk if they wish to make a contribution to this debate.

Universal Period Review (UPR) provides an opportunity for Ireland to reflect and act on non-compliance with its human rights commitments. The UN Human Rights Council was provided with a mandate by the UN General Assembly, in April 2006, to periodically and publicly review a State every four years for compliance with its human rights obligations and commitments. The modalities of this mechanism were to be developed by the Council, based in Geneva, within one year of it holding its first session. Following a year of intensive inter-governmental negotiations on the structure and shape of the procedure the Human Rights Council established UPR in June 2007.

This innovative mechanism subjects each UN member state to a thorough review of its human Continue reading “The Need to Prioritise Issues for UN Human Rights Review: A Call for Debate”

The Need to Prioritise Issues for UN Human Rights Review: A Call for Debate