On International Human Rights Day 2014, Community Law and Mediation has published volume 3(2) of the Irish Community Development Law Journal. This edition has a special focus on social welfare rights. Contributors to this edition include:
Mary Murphy, Ireland’s Lone Parents: Social Welfare and Recession
Liam Thornton, The Rights of Others: Asylum Seekers and Direct Provision in Ireland
Pia Janning, Ireland’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Obligations and Budgetary Policy
Rosemary Hennigan & Molly Joyce, Public Interest Litigation & Access to the Courts: As Far as Practicable?
You can access the full text of these articles here.
The front page of this morning’s Irish Times carries this story reporting the Minister for Social Welfare Mary Hanafin’s (left) view that some reform of the one parent family allowance may be required. In the Minister’s view “The idea of continuing to pay somebody until their child is 22 if they’re in full-time education, it just mitigates against that lone parent herself having a stable relationship or marrying or even taking a full-time job, because of the attachment to ‘the book’”. The article reports that the Minister is considering discussing a situation where one parent family allowance would cease around the time that a child went to secondary school and that she seeks a ‘social policy’, rather than economic, discussion around this welfare allowance. It should be noted, first of all, that changes along these lines were proposed in the Government Discussion Paper: Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents (2006) and are therefore not new. In addition, the discussion is prompted by an awareness that lone parents are reportedly four times more likely to live in poverty and a desire to try to improve state-based supports for lone parent families.
Originally lone parents were supported through the poor law and such support was, in fact, reflective of a very punitive and moralistic approach to single parents (and single mothers in particular). Lone fathers were not originally entitled to any lone parent support from the state; a situation that was upheld by the Supreme Court in Lowth v Minister for Social Welfare  3 IR 321 on the basis of ‘social function’.
Part III of the Social Welfare Act 1990 introduced a means tested, non-gender-specific lone parent’s allowance payable to those with at least one qualifying child. Part V of the Social Welfare Act 1996 then introduced the one parent family payment to replace the lone parent’s allowance, deserted wife’s benefit and deserted wife’s allowance. This gender neutral, means tested payment is intended to support those who are bringing up a child without the support of a partner and without access to income from other sources. Qualifying children are children up to the age of 18 or, when in full-time education, up the age of 22 where the recipient is the main carer of the child. Rather controversially, qualification for the one parent family allowance is dependent on one complying with the “non-cohabitation” rule, i.e. a rule that prohibits the payment of OPF allowance to anyone who resides with another adult “as husband and wife” regardless of whether the other cohabiting adult in fact parents or supports the child to any extent. Continue reading “Reform of the One Parent Family Allowance?”
HRiI is today, on International Human Rights Day 2009, hosting a blog carnival to give initial reactive assessment of the impact of Budget 2010 from a human rights perspective. As with our last blog carnival, I am using a Wordle to illustrate the main themes of the budget in a word cloud.
Posts from our regular contributors and from guest contributors will tease out the human rights impact of the budget in the areas of social security law; children’s rights; labour rights; the rights of migrants; women and Budget 2010; the rights of those who are disabled; the human rights and equality infrastructure within the State.
There is much analysis of Budget 2010 in the main Irish broadsheets. RTE allows individuals to watch the budget statement in full. Tonight with Vincent Browne had an excellent post budget analysis programme last night. The focus of this show was on the people affected by Budget 2010 with interesting contributions from a wide range of persons.
We are always open to readers’ proposals for guest posts and blog events. You can send us a direct message via our facebook fan page or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/humanrightsblog, or you can email any of the regular contributors.
I do hope you enjoy this blog carnival and hope that it adds a more human rights analysis to Budget 2010 than has to date been provided.
This is a contribution from Saoirse Brady, FLAC’s Policy & Campaigns Officer.
Asylum seekers and other persons seeking protection often appear to be excluded from Irish society. In fact, the Irish government has taken a number of steps to ensure that persons within the asylum and humanitarian leave to remain process cannot easily integrate into Irish society.
By introducing the policies of direct provision and dispersal, the government has added to this sense of exclusion for individuals seeking asylum or another form of protection. “Direct provision” is the scheme whereby asylum seekers and people seeking other forms of protection are given accommodation on a full-board basis with all their basic needs apparently provided for directly. Direct provision residents receive a weekly payment of 19.10 for an adult and 9.60 for a child, unchanged since its introduction in 2001. The dispersal scheme ensures that individuals who apply for asylum are dispatched to different parts of the country. Often they are removed from residential areas or big towns and sent to remote or rural locations. Transport is limited and given their meagre allowance, it is often difficult for them to leave their accommodation centres to socialise or interact with other members of Irish society. This obviously has implications for the social inclusion of direct provision residents. In its concluding observations to Ireland’s first national report, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted it “is concerned at the possible implications of the policy of dispersal of and direct provision for asylum-seekers” under article 3, which prohibits discrimination.
Furthermore, the integration of asylum seekers and other direct provision residents does not fall within the remit of the Office of the Minister for Integration, set up in 2007.
Continue reading “FLAC: Social Welfare and the Protection Regime”
The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) have issued a Briefing Note on the Habitual Residence Condition which explains a number of victories for four asylum seekers who have been granted child benefit. Before going into detail on this specific issue, it is necessary to examine this issue in some detail and explain the rights and entitlements for asylum seekers within the Irish welfare state.
Asylum seekers are those who claim protection within a State (be it for refugee status, subsidiary protection or leave to remain). When examining whether an individual is entitled to protection from Ireland, an appreciable period of time may pass between initial entry and final determination on whether protection will be granted. Therefore questions arise as to how an asylum seeker will be supported.
Continue reading “Reception Conditions for Asylum Seekers in Ireland”