Home > Human Rights in the News > Crowley on the 10th Anniversary of the Employment Equality Act

Crowley on the 10th Anniversary of the Employment Equality Act

Former Chief Executive of the Equality Authority, Niall Crowley had this article in yesterday’s Irish Times. Here is a flavour:

[1999] was a time of significant political ambition. John O’Donoghue, then minister for justice, equality and law reform, spoke of setting the stage for the Equality Authority “to lead and guide our citizens to make the behavioural, and ultimately the attitudinal, changes necessary to bring about a more equal society”…

The 10th anniversary of the equality legislation is marked by an absence of the political ambition that accompanied its enactment. Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Dermot Ahern rendered the authority unviable when he cut its 2009 budget by 43 per cent. In November 2008 he was asked in the Dáil by Pat Rabbitte why he had “decided to kill off the Equality Authority”? He said his priority for 2009 “will be to tackle crime” and that he had “decided to focus on some of the more soft issues in the department to achieve a significant reduction”.

The Employment Equality Act and the Equal Status Act placed Ireland in a leadership position on the issue of equality within the European Union. On this 10th anniversary of the legislation, Ireland stands accused before the European Commission of being in breach of the EU equal treatment directives. These require member states to have an equality body to provide assistance to people who experience discrimination.

The Equality and Rights Alliance has lodged a complaint with the commission that the cutback to the funding of the authority means that it is unable to fulfil its functions… What should be a moment of celebration and renewed endeavour for equality has become a moment of some embarrassment.

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