The newly-appointed Ombudsman and Information Commissioner, Peter Tyndall, will deliver his first public lecture since taking up office in NUI Galway on Wednesday 19th February. The lecture, which will take place at 8pm in the Aula Maxima (lower), will be hosted by the School of Law to mark the first ten years of its LL.M in Public Law. It will be chaired by the former Supreme Court judge, Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, Chairperson of Udarás na hOllscoile and Adjunct Professor of Law at NUIG, who has been assocated with the LL.M in Public Law since its inception. The title of Mr. Tyndall’s lecture will be: “The Ombudsman and Information Commissioner: Delivering Fairness and Transparency”. Members of the public are welcome to attend this event. Peter Tyndall was Public Services Ombudsman for Wales since 2008 dealing with complaints concerning public organisations responsible for delivering services devolved to the Welsh Government including Health, Social Care, Housing and Local Government. He worked to modernise that office to provide prompt and effective resolution of complaints and to drive improvement in public services. Prior to becoming Ombudsman for Wales, Mr. Tyndall was the Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Wales. He was previously Head of Education and Culture for the Welsh Local Government Association and before that worked in a variety of senior positions in housing and social care.
Mr. Tyndall recently served a two year term as Chairman of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association. He is a member of the World and European Boards of the International Ombudsman Institute. He has spoken and published extensively on ombudsman issues. Originally from Dublin, Mr. Tyndall has lived and worked in Wales for more than 30 years. He has an MSc in Strategic Management from Cardiff University and is married with three daughters. He received his warrant of appointment as Ombudsman and Information Commissioner from President Higgins on 2nd December 2013. Mr Tyndall succeeded Ms Emily O’Reilly and will also serve as Commissioner for Environmental Information, and as an ex-officio member of the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Referendum Commission and the Constituency Commission.
Yesterday, the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly launched a well reasoned critique of the direct provision system (news coverage here and all Human Rights in Ireland’s posts on direct provision here ). This follows on from Ombudsman O’Reilly’s most recent investigation relating to an asylum seeker refused a social welfare payment that she was entitled to.While the Ombudsman is prevented from investigating maladministration in immigration and naturalisation issues, so the Irish Nationality and Immigration Service is beyond its supervisory powers, the governmental departments responsible for the direct provision system are not. These include the Department of Justice and Equality, through the provision of accommodation via the Reception and Integration Agency and the Department of Social Protection , through making direct provision allowance payment of €19.10 per week per adult and €9.60 per week per child._Although as I have noted on a number of occasions, the Department is prohibited from making this payment by virtue of Irish social welfare law.
The reliance on administrative system of direct provision that actively undermined statutory rights for a significant period between 2000-2009 shows how easily legal rights, in particular legislative rights under social welfare law, can be placed at naught through:
- A Parliament subservient to the Executive,
- An Executive intent on impoverishing an unpopular group in society,
- Public disinterest in the rights of asylum seekers and/or an active hostility towards those claiming asylum;
- Those administering the social welfare system allowing their discretion to be fettered by government circulars (and ignoring law) ;
- Courts that are wary of impinging or in any way recognising rights of life, bodily integrity, and family rights as including any form of social and economic protections.
Despite a steady stream of Parliamentary questions on the system of direct provision in the last number of weeks, there seems to be no appetite for reform in Government. Although Emily O’Reilly will be setting off to Europe shortly, it would be hoped that the interest of the Ombudsman’s office on the issue of direct provision will continue.
Budget 2011 has resulted in lesser social protection for marginalised groups within society. Below, I highlight some of the key cuts within the protection/rights sectors and give some initial assessment as to what this means for human rights in Ireland.
The social protection measures for Budget 2011 has once again seen a cut in a number of key payments: child benefit, jobseeker supports along with illness, caring and disability benefits. There has been no reduction in old age pension supports and/or ancillary old age benefits. Calls from a variety of groups for the current level of social Continue reading “Budget 2011: Social Protection & Human Rights in Ireland”
Launch of Irish Human Rights Law Review by Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly
PILA is pleased to host the launch of a new scholarly publication, Irish Human Rights Law Review, published by Clarus Press on Thursday 20th May at 5.30pm in The Morrison Hotel, Ormond Quay, Dublin 1.
The Review, which will be published on an annual basis, will be launched by the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. The other speakers at the event are the Editor, Donncha O’Connell, and Michael Farrell of FLAC.
The Review contains articles and case notes and should be of interest to practitioners, academics, activists and students involved in various kinds of human rights work. It will be available on special offer to those attending the launch.
Please RSVP to PILA by telephone at 01 8728048 or email at email@example.com.
On Monday, the Irish Penal Reform Trust will launch a new report; Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice. Details of the launch are here. In the year in which the UNCRC turns 20, the IPRT reminds us that:
Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Ireland in 1992, requires that the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. Detention as a last resort requires parsimony in the use of custody for children and that it be limited to exceptional cases, including for example where a child has been found guilty of a violent offence.As long as detention exists as an option, places of detention for children should aim to maximise their chances of rehabilitation and integration into society by providing a humane, safe and secure environment whereby the offending behaviour of children can be addressed, and where children will be assisted to make better choices about their lives during custody and on their return to society.
Continue reading “From the IPRT: Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice.”