115th Ordinary Meeting of the Human Rights Commission
30 April 2012
REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE
Summary of main decisions to be taken
No major decisions are required at this meeting which will primarily discuss the
report of the Working Group on the Merger of the Irish Human Rights Commission
and the Equality Authority.
Work on Research, Policy and Promotion
Whistleblowing legislation (for noting)
Work on the preparing observations on the Whistleblowing legislation is ongoing.
Universal Periodic Review (for noting)
Work has commenced on a follow-up report on Ireland’s implementation of the UPR
Ireland’s 4th Report to the Human Rights Committee on International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (for noting)
The Department of Foreign Affairs will hold a consultation on Ireland’s Fourth
Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
on 3 May. IHRC will attend and work will commence on a shadow report under ICCPR
in the coming months.
Request for Information on NHRIs role in Implementing the UN World
Programme on Human Rights Education (for noting)
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights requested information from
NHRIs on their activities in following up the UN World Programme on Human Rights
Education Phase II (which focuses on Higher Education Institutions, Civil Servants and
Security Forces). The IHRC provided a note to OHCHR on its recent work, including
the Human Rights Education in Ireland study and the HRET Project.
Law Society Conference 2012 (for noting)
Work is progressing on the 10th Annual Human Rights Conference with the Law
Society. Mr Hogan and Ms Roberts met with the Law Society on 4th April and agreed
a theme for the conference. The theme will be to examine the impact of domestic
and European law in promoting and protecting human rights in the courts.
Conference on Migrant Domestic Workers and human rights (for noting)
A joint UCC Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights-IHRC conference on
Migrant Domestic Workers and human rights is to held on 19 October 2012 in UCC,
Cork. An update can be provided.
Constitutional Convention (for discussion)
The IHRC will meet Amnesty International on 2 May 2012 concerning the upcoming
Constitutional Convention with a view to the human rights element in the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) seminar (for
The IHRC is partnering with NUI Galway in holding a seminar on the requirements for
independent Article 33.2 monitoring under the CRPD on 27 April at the IHRC offices.
Annual Report 2011 launch (for noting)
Work is ongoing on drafting the IHRC Annual Report 2011 for launch in June 2012.
An update can be provided.
Annual Human Rights Lecture (for noting)
President Michael D. Higgins has accepted the invitation to deliver the IHRC’s Annual
Human Rights Lecture this year on International Human Rights Day, 10 December
2012. Planning for the lecture has commenced.
NUI Guidelines on human rights (for noting)
A draft policy and human rights charter was submitted to the IHRC by the NUI and
the IHRC provided written comments back to the NUI Registrar. The NUI registrar has
developed this draft into a charter for the NUI, which will be discussed at the NUI
Senate meeting on 26 April. An update can be provided.
Business and Human Rights – 2012 (for discussion)
One of the IHRC priorities for 2012 is business and human rights. It is proposed to
suggest to the Joint Committee that both Commissions north and south undertake
work on the regulation of non-State actors in the care sector.
Meeting with Department of Foreign Affairs (for noting)
Mr Hogan and Ms Roberts will seek to meet with the Human Rights Unit in the
Department on mutual matters over the coming period.
Prisons (for noting)
Further to the 5 April discussion, the IHRC wrote to the Irish Prison Service, the
Inspector of Prisons and the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) requesting meetings on
the issue. On 25 April, the IHRC met with Mr Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the
IPRT. An update can be provided.
Travellers and Ethnicity (for noting/ discussion)
The President, Mr Hogan and Ms Lucey met with the Department of Justice on 16
April on the issue. An update can be provided.
Religion and Education (for noting/ discussion)
The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector delivered its report to
the Minister for Education on 10 April which drew on the IHRC report Religion and
Education: A Human Rights Perspective. It is proposed to write to the Minister on the
steps the State now needs to take on the issue.
European Court Reform (for noting)
As previously discussed, a second roundtable for lawyers and interested NGOs on
developments on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights in the May –
June 2012 period. Mr Hogan attended the Brighton Ministerial Conference in
Brighton 17-19 April 2012 on behalf of the European Group of NHRIs. Arising from
that Conference, it is hoped to meet the Attorney General shortly to discuss mutual
CSPE Submission (for noting)
The IHRC submission on the downgrading of Civil, Social and Political Education
(CSPE) in the secondary school curriculum has been submitted to the Minister for
Education and Skills and to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. The
Minister responded by letter indicating his agreement with the IHRC position.
Proposal on Civic, Social and Political Education Action Project (for noting)
Following the approval by Plenary of the proposal for a CSPE Action Project, work
has commenced on this initiative.
Human Rights Education and Training Project (HRETP) (for noting)
City and County Council training is ongoing with Roscommon, Cavan and Donegal
completed so far. The HRETP Project Manager made a presentation to the City and
County Council Managers Association (CCMA) to update them on the new round of
Council training and to offer feedback from Phase I Council training.
The three day training course with Commissioned Officers in the Defence Forces who
remain in the Cadet School until June, took place in the Curragh Camp from 18 – 20
April. The evaluation forms from this training are very positive and further
discussions to repeat this training will take place in the near future.
A short training session is scheduled to take place on 18 May for the Refugee
Appeals Tribunal and work is on-going to develop a Training pack for Trainers within
the Irish Prison Service (IPS).
Ms Roberts and Ms Murphy will attend a HRE Symposium in Lucerne, Switzerland on
the 28 April 2012.
Ms Roberts and Ms Murphy have been invited to address a World Bank conference
on human rights evaluation and indicators in June at World Bank headquarters in
Washington. This comes as part of ongoing engagement between HRETP and the
World Bank/Nordic Trust with a view to possible match-funding opportunities (as
required by Atlantic Philanthropies).
Separately Mr Hogan met with An Garda Síochána to discuss IHRC training on its
Senior Investigating Officers course scheduled for May-June 2012.
EU Funding Proposal (for noting)
As agreed at the March Plenary, the funding proposal has been submitted to the EU.
A response is expected in late May/early June.
Irish Aid Project (for noting)
The IHRC made a submission to Irish Aid under its Review of the White Paper on Irish
Aid on 25 April.
A funding proposal for the extension of this project for a further three years has
been drafted (see separate memo and document) and will be shortly be submitted
to Irish Aid.
The IHRC has prepared a draft Memorandum of Understanding and Project Work
Plan which will form the basis of the IHRC’s partnership with the HRCSL. Both
documents will be shared with the HRCSL and Irish Aid for final approval. It is hoped
that induction training for new HRCSL Commissioners will take place in Sierra Leone
in June/July 2012.
The project is currently scoping possible work with the Malawi Human Rights
Commission, in consultation with Irish Aid, with a view to the Project Officer
undertaking an initial assessment (as was carried out in Sierra Leone) in the coming
External representation (for noting/ discussion)
The IHRC is represented externally on the following and updates may be provided:
1. SHRAC (Commissioner Sweetman)
2. Transnational Organised Crime Project (QUB) (Commissioner Bradley)
3. Smith Committee – Garda questioning (Commissioner Sweetman)
4. HSE National Implementation Team – congregated settings (Mr
Hogan/ Ms Lucey).
An update on recent meetings can be provided.
Presentations (for noting)
Ms Roberts spoke on the role of the International Coordinating Committee of NHRIs
in engaging with Treaty Bodies and International Mechanisms in the University of
Leuven on 16 April and attended a working group meeting, chaired by Manfred
Nowak (former UN Special Rapporteur on the Prevention of Torture) to develop
recommendations to the EU on their engagement with NHRIs, which will be
presented at an international conference in Vienna in November.
Ms Roberts has been invited to give a workshop on Human Rights Education for the
Civil and Public Service in the University of Lucerne on 28 April.
Media and Public Affairs (for noting)
The IHRC Spring E-Bulletin will issue shortly.
The IHRC website has received 17,500 visits since 1st January 2012 and almost 73,000 since
1st January 2011.
The IHRC appeared in the following media in April:
Date Media Outlet Topic covered
24 April TippFM Roscrea Office and Report of
Working Group on the Merger
20 April Irish Times Report of Working Group on the
20 April Irish examiner Report of Working Group on the
20 April Irish Independent Report of Working Group on the
20 April Evening Echo Report of Working Group on the
20 April RTE.ie Report of Working Group on the
20 April Eircom.net Report of Working Group on the
20 April Politics.ie Blog Report of Working Group on the
20 April NewsTalk Report of Working Group on the
20 April Breaking News Report of Working Group on the
20 April Inside Ireland.ie Report of Working Group on the
20 April Merrion Street.ie Report of Working Group on the
17 April Irish Examiner: Opinion by Fergus Merger
11 April The Irish Examiner Pluralism and Patronage Report
18 April Dáil Debate Written Answer to a PQ Services
for People with Disabilities
including 3rd Enquiry
28 March Dáil Debate Written Answer to PQ on
appointments to state boards
27 March Dáil Debate Written Answer to PQ on
appointments to state boards
Work on Enquiries, Legal Services and Administration
Enquiry 3: A recent Parliamentary question was asked on the extent to which the
IHRC’s recommendations to the Department of Health had been implemented. A
copy of the response from the Minister for State at the Department of Health is set
out at Annex 2.
Digital Rights Ireland Limited v Minister for Communications (for noting)
This case involves Gardaí monitoring mobile phones and the internet. There was a
hearing on 26 January 2012 and MacKechnie J finalised the reference to the Court of
Justice. An update can be provided.
CD v The HSE (for noting)
This case concerns the forcible medical treatment of a person with a significant
mental health disability in which the IHRC was joined as amicus in November 2011.
The hearing commenced on 28 February, continuing over three days, and was
adjourned to allow the parties file further written submissions, including a request
from the Judge that the parties would address the question whether ratification of
the CRPD by the EU has an impact on the case. The IHRC is now preparing a further
brief submission on this issue. The matter is for mention again on 3 May 2012 with a
view to setting a further hearing date.
PL v St Patrick’s Hospital & Anor ( for noting)
This case concerns the alleged detention of a voluntary patient in St Patrick’s
Hospital. As directed by the Court and following the decision of the Commission, the
parties have been written to advising them of the decision of the Commission to
intervene as amicus curiae. The matter is for mention on 8 May 2012 for the purpose
of setting a hearing date and directions in relation to filing submissions.
Inquest into the death of AH
The Commission decided to grant legal assistance to a family member of a man who
died while on temporary release from prison, in order to represent her at the
inquest. The inquest was due to take place on 5 April 2012 with a limited number of
witnesses being called. Prior to that date the Commission wrote to the Coroner on
behalf of the client setting out its views in relation to the matters that should be
examined at the inquest and a list of additional witnesses that the client wished to
have called. On this basis the Coroner adjourned the inquest to address the matters
raised in the Commission’s letter, and the matter is for mention again on 8 June
Magee v Ireland: inquest into death in custody (for noting)
In February 2012 the European Court granted the IHRC leave to intervene in this case
and a submission was delivered on 8 March which has now been acknowledged by
Donohoe v Ireland: Garda belief evidence under the Offences Against the
State Act 1939 (as amended) (for noting)
Further to the decision of Plenary to intervene in this case, the application submitted
to the European Court to allow the Commission make a third party intervention has
been granted and the submission is to be filed by 9 May 2012. In the meantime, the
first part of the draft submission is being circulated for comment to Commissioners,
with the full submission to follow.
E v Ireland (for noting)
Further to the decision of Plenary to intervene in this case, an application has been
submitted to the European Court to allow the Commission make a third party
intervention and a response is awaited.
Execution of Judgments (for noting)
The IHRC continues to monitor the implementation of the State’s Action plan in the
case of McFarlane v Ireland. In this regard Ms Lucey met the expert group on 11 April
2012 on behalf of the Commission. It is expected this group will report by the end of
May. The IHRC has undertaken to keep the Department of Execution of Judgments
apprised of its views on the matter. The IHRC has not made a submission to the
Department of Execution of Judgments in relation to ABC v Ireland insofar as the
Minister’s expert group is expected to report in June 2012.
Statistics (for noting)
The present number of live requests for an enquiry and applications for assistance is
13. In March 2012, the Commission received 1 enquiry request and 2 applications for
legal assistance, 34 queries and 8 preliminary files were opened. In addition, 7 new
notifications under section 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights Act,
2003, were received. These details are set out in Annex 1 to this report.
Decisions taken (for noting)
Since the Commission’s last Plenary meeting, the Acting Chief Executive decided not
to accede to 1 request for an enquiry and not to grant 2 legal assistance applications.
Merger (for noting/ discussion)
The Working Group finalised its report to the Minister for Justice and Equality on the
Merger between the IHRC and Equality Authority on the 19th of April 2012. The IHRC
issued a press release in response broadly welcoming the report.
Premises (for noting/ discussion)
No engagement with the Landlord’s agent has occurred since it was announced that
the Landlord’s interests including Jervis House had been placed in receivership,
however the IHRC and Equality Authority undertook a tour of Jervis House in early
April 2012 to view additional space. Further to the discussion at the April 5 Plenary,
the IHRC is following up with the Department regarding negotiations with the
Finance, Audit, Risk, and General Purposes Committee (for noting)
The Committee met at the end of the last Plenary meeting and a further meeting is
scheduled for this meeting at 11.00.
Audit of 2011 Financial Statements (for noting)
The IHRC have been informed by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office that
the field work of the Audit of 2011 accounts will commence the week beginning the
14 May 2012.
Civil Service Workface meeting
The Department of Justice and Equality Reform and Development Unit has
requested to meet with the IHRC on our response to a new workforce planning
framework which is aligned to the Employment Control Framework. A meeting will
take place shortly. Also, the IHRC will hold a regular periodic meeting with the
Department to discuss mutual issues.
New Placements (for noting)
Three new placements have commenced with the Commission since the start of
April, they are Gillian Martin (HRETP Project), Clodagh-Kate (Chloe) Ó Briain and
Victoria (Vikki) Walsh, all in RPP.
Joint Committee (for noting)
There is no update in relation to this mooted meeting.
Acting Chief Executive
25 April 2012
Annex 1 - Enquiry and Legal
New ‘live’ requests/ applications 3
Preliminary Files 8
Notices - s.6(1) ECHR Act, 2003 7
Annex 2 – Parliamentary Response to Enquiry 3 recommendations
Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Health further to
Parliamentary Question No. 552 of 13 March 2012, the number of the 42
recommendations from the Irish Human Rights Commission report arising from the
operation of a residential and day-care centre for persons with a severe and profound
intellectual disability that have been implemented; the recommendations that have not
been implemented; the timeline for when the outstanding recommendations will be
implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18728/12]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): As the
Deputy is aware the Irish Human Rights Commission Enquiry Report into the
provision of intellectual disability services by the Brothers of Charity Services to
adults in the John Paul Centre, Galway was published in March 2010. From a
Department of Health perspective, the Report raises important questions regarding the
current arrangements for funding, accountability and standards in our disability
services. It is acknowledged that, despite considerable advances in the standard of
service provision in recent years, more needs to be done to improve services. A
number of important current initiatives will further advance the ability of the health
services to focus more fully on meeting the needs of people with disabilities. My
Department’s ongoing Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services
(VFM) is considering how well the current substantial allocation of funding for
disability services is being used, and is exploring the way forward for reconfiguration
of these services, and their management and operation, so as to enable them to
respond more effectively to individual needs. It is expected that the Review will be
completed in the first half of 2012.
The Report makes 15 specific recommendations to the Department of Health. I have
set out below the current position in relation to the implementation of the
recommendations below. Recommendations 1 & 2: (Gaps in existing law/ practice
and ratification of UNCRPD). These recommendations were accepted. The
Department of Justice and Equality has responsibility in relation to ratification of the
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The
Department of Health is engaging with that Department in relation to ongoing work
involved in preparing for ratification.
Recommendation 3: (Definition of health and personal social services). The
Department of Health has completed a review of the eligibility framework which is
contained in the Health Act 1970. The issue is being considered in the context of
policy proposals being developed on Universal Health Insurance. The Government is
now committed to implementing a comprehensive programme of health reform. It has
set clear goals for the health service, namely, a universal, single tier health care
system with access based on need and not income, more care delivered locally
through strengthened primary care, and greater transparency and incentives regarding
performance. The Government will introduce Universal Health Insurance with equal
access to care for all, with no discrimination between patients on the grounds of
income or insurance status.
Recommendations 4, 5, 6 and 8: (“bottom up” redesign of service agreements
(quantum, quality and accountability) working group on national average costs,
National Intellectual Disability Database review, individual assessments to inform
service level funding – non-retrogressive measures). These recommendations have
been accepted and will be informed by and progressed in the context of the
forthcoming Value For Money and Policy Review of Disability Services.
Recommendation 7: (Disability Act 2005). Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 was
commenced for children under the age of 5 on 1 June 2007. It had been intended that
the Disability Act would be commenced on a phased basis for the 5-18 year old
cohort and then for adults, with the Disability Act and the Education for Persons with
Special Education Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004 to be implemented during 2010 in
respect of children between 5 and 18 years of age. In light of current fiscal
constraints, it was necessary to defer further implementation of the two Acts.
Recommendations 9, 13 & 15: (Clear guidelines on the required staff-to-client ratios;
clear protocols for the prevention of foreseeable risks to vulnerable persons with an
intellectual disability living in institutions or residential centres through timely and
appropriate intervention strategies; HIQA’s inspection and monitoring role to be
immediately introduced). HIQA has prepared and published standards for residential
services for the disability sector, which outline what is expected of a provider of
services and what a person with a disability, his or her family, and the public, can
expect to receive from such services. The standards clearly set out what a quality safe
residential service for people with disabilities should be and support the delivery of
person-centred care in this sector. The Government is committed to ensuring that
vulnerable people with disabilities in residential services are safeguarded and
protected, and that their quality of life is enhanced. With this in mind, the current
Programme for Government commits to mandatory standards for this sector and
inspections of services by HIQA. Discussions have begun between the Department of
Health and HIQA to progress this commitment. Given the complex nature of
residential service provision for people with disabilities, ranging from congregated
settings to dispersed housing in the community, careful consideration is being given
to designing the most appropriate regulatory model and this work is ongoing. A target
date of Quarter 1 2013 has been provisionally set for the commencement of the
proposed regulatory scheme.
Recommendation 10: (protocols governing HSE Reviews including reporting). The
HSE has informed the Department that it has reviewed its current arrangements for
holding and managing enquiries in order to ensure that all future enquiries are
conducted efficiently and effectively, and without undue delay. I understand that a
Serious Incident Unit has been set up within HSE for the purpose of developing and
implementing policies and procedures to facilitate appropriate and proportionate
responses to all serious incidents including the establishment and management of
inquiries and investigations.
Recommendation 11: (the complaints mechanisms under Part 9 of the Health Act
2004 should be reviewed). The Department will raise this issue with the HSE to
establish how the overall complaints system is working in relation to disability service
Recommendation 12: (Mental capacity legislation). This is currently being progressed
by the Department of Justice and Equality.
Recommendation 14: (Department to review the Government’s 2003 Report to the
CPT and the recommendations made in the Report - persons with ID in a psychiatric
facility). Substantial progress has been made in relation to (a) transferring persons
with an intellectual disability from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate
placements, (b) the development of national standards, recommendations 9, 13 and 15