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Developments on the Revised Programme for Government

This post will be updated as matters develop today. Although there are of course many issues within the revised programme for government, our focus here will be on human rights related matters.

As the Green Party hold their party meeting this morning to vote on both the revised programme for government on which agreement was reach late yesterday evening and the proposals for the National Asset Management Agency, we still do not know what the contents of the revised programme for government are. There are some leaks reported in today’s Irish Times. In particular, it is claimed that it contains a commitment to 500 new teaching jobs (with a view to maintaining or lowering the teacher : student ratio) with recruitment to begin immediately and to not introducing third level fees. On electoral reform there is said to be agreement on the introduction of a system of vouched expenses for parliamentarians and a ban on corporate donations to political parties, both of which are very welcome.

Beyond that, however, we are largely in the dark-the proposed revised programme was not made widely available last night and there doesn’t seem to be anything leaking out of the Green Party’s meeting this morning. And so we continue to wait to hear whether the Government will fall this weekend and if not whether any commitments to human rights organisations have been included in the programme. However, if money can be found (as is suggested) for the re-housing of the Abbey Theatre in the GPO and the maintenance of the Irish Film Board one would hope that money can be found to ensure vital human rights infrastructure such as the Irish Human Rights Commission and Equality Authority can achieve the highest possible levels of functionality.

UPDATE 11.52am The revised (or ‘renewed’, apparently) programme can be accessed here.

Here are a few of the spotlight issues with human rights implications, but there are enormous amounts of commitments that have important implications:

  • commitment to ensure passage of the Civil Partnership Bill by end of 2009
  • commitment to review legislation relating to family law (guardianship, custody, access)
  • a solid commitment to introduce legislation to recognise gender reassignment/reallignment
  • hold a constitutional referendum on Article 41.2 to broaden the reference to women in the home to a reference to parents in the home
  • commitment to ensuring gender equality in particular
  • a commitment to ensuring implementation of the National Disability Strategy notwithstanding the recession
  • full implementation of the Ryan Report’s recommendations
  • a constitutional referendum on children’s rights
  • review and amend as appropriate and necessary legislation relating to potential inspection regimes in Shannon Airport re rendition (this is, in my view, very watery…)

Nothing as far as I can see about committing to maintaining and adequately funding human rights institutions. If the programme is approved, we will be commenting on how these various commitments might be operationalised here on HRinI.

UPDATE 12:13 There is now a live blog from inside the Convention which you can view here.

For Twitter fans, the tag is #pfg

UPDATE 13:45 Mary White was on RTE Radio 1 at lunchtime today speaking about the revised programme for government. The conversation was primarily on education and White claimed that the agreement to not introduce third level fees, to provide further educational psychologists and to hire 500 new teachers over the life of the government (although, by the way, when retirements andcontract-non-renewals are factored in this may not be as significant as is being represented) was a major achievement by the Green Party. She said there has been no agreement on social welfare cuts in Budget 2009.

UPDATE 19:16 The Green Party has voted to support the revised Programme for Government. RTÉ reports that the margin was more than 4:1 in favour of the reform programme. You can expect commentary on the various rights-related aspects of the programme here on HRinI over the next few days and weeks.

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