Home > Commentary > Equality and Human Rights on the Political Agenda

Equality and Human Rights on the Political Agenda

Now that the referendum to amend the Constitution in respect of the Lisbon Treaty has been passed by a 2/3 majority, domestic political attention can finally be focused elsewhere. Top of the agenda this week is surely the process of renegotiation of the Programme for Government between the Green Party and Fianna Fáil with a document submitted from Mary Harney who, of course, is now party-less following the demise of the Progressive Democrats. The Green Party has made it clear that equality and human rights and, particularly, securing budgets for organisations committed thereto is within their agenda for this week’s talks.

There is little doubt but that this process is being driven by the Green Party whose leader, John Gormley, has said that unless the revised programme for government is passed by a 2/3 majority of the Green Party at conference next weekend the party will be obliged to pull out of government, thereby most likely triggering a general election. (For commentary see this piece in the Sunday Tribune)

Exactly where equality and human rights figure within the Green Party’s agenda is unclear. It is well known that the Green Party was vehemently opposed to the creation of conditions that essentially compelled the then Chief Executive of the Equality Authority, Niall Crowley, to resign last year. Among these conditions was the slashing of budgets to an extent that has made it extremely difficult for the EA to do its work in an effective manner. In addition, the NCCRI and Combat Poverty Agency have both been abolished, causing concern to grow that the government is using the current economy crisis as a moment of opportunity to undercut the advances made towards the achievement of civic and economic equality in the State.

It is not clear exactly what the Green Party will demand in relation to equality and human rights, whether it will be a make-or-break issue for them in the negotiations, and whether the main government party Fianna Fáil will see this as a matter upon which their survival in government depends. This week will tell a lot, but we will be keeping a close eye on proceedings here in HRinI.

  1. Ciara Fitzgerald
    October 6, 2009 at 11:09 am

    I think the Greens have an opportunity here to ensure that we come out of this economic mess with equality and human rights at the centre of government policy but they will have a serious fight on their hands. Fianna Fail seem completely committed to maintaining the status quo in terms of the manner in which the state is structured and have demonstrated this as you say by cutting the budgets of some very important rights protection bodies. Look what has happened to the Irish Human Rights Commission! I genuinely think that the Greens do want to ensure a change in this aspect of Government policy but I am not sure if they have the neck to do so. Time will tell I guess!

  1. October 9, 2009 at 8:33 am

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