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Call for Blog Posts: Ireland and Popular Critiques of Human Rights

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

[The European Convention on Human Rights] was drafted specifically with the appalling abuses of World War II in mind. Do you really think that putting crucifixes on the walls of state classrooms can in any way, shape or form be compared with what the Nazis and others did in World War II? No, I didn’t think so.

David Quinn, Irish Independent, Nov 6, 2009

It will become clear that the actions [of Portmarnock Golf Club] raise very fundamental questions to do with the constitutional rights of citizens to associate with one another, and the powers of the State to regulate, penalise, or discourage such association and cognate matters, including the right to associate for purposes disapproved of by the political establishment, or by the “great and the good” in Government, the media, the quangos and elsewhere.

Mr. Justice Adrian Hardiman in Equality Authority v Portmarnock Golf Club

[Amnesty International’s] Irish manifestation has apparently mission-crept into being an advocate for the entire PC agenda. Though hundreds are starving to death in Mugabe’s jails, the Congo is darkness personified, Iran is an Islamic tyranny, and unspeakable things are happening in just about every country ending in “-istan”, Amnesty Ireland is campaigning for marriage rights for homosexuals.

Kevin Myers, Irish Independent, August 12, 2009

Rights are inalienable, they are not granted at the whim of the state – anything gifted to us by the Dáil, the EU parliament or the courts can just as easily be taken away. If abortion is a right then it must be fought for in open debate, not introduced by the back door through legalistic complaining. Even if the court decides in favour of a change to Irish law it will do no one any favours. State bodies already have too much to say about what goes on in our bodies and inviting the courts to decide what is right and wrong surrenders individual sovereignty.

Jason Walsh, forth.ie, 10 December, 2009

As regular readers will know, every so often we run blog carnivals where we invite academics and researchers to write posts (about 500-1000 words) on a particular theme. (See examples here and here). I’m hoping to curate one on March 17th which will address the topic of Ireland’s human rights culture, or lack thereof. In particular I want us to think about the apparent  popular aversion to institutionalised human rights in Ireland, and to engage with those arguments…creatively (and perhaps not defensively). I am hoping that we will get to think critically about Ireland’s human rights culture, examine its flaws and imagine alternative possibilities. This isn’t a new debate – the outlines are well laid out by scholars such as Zizek, Douzinas, Nedelsky and Brown– but maybe it is one that Irish human rights scholars need to have again.

I’m looking for participants in a blog carnival. So if you would like to join in, please email maireadenright@gmail.com and let me know, with a line or two on the idea you would like to blog about. Some topics I would like to see addressed (this is by no means an exhaustive list) are:

  • Judicial activism and human rights.
  • The juridification of human rights.
  • International and European human rights institutions and Irish sovereignty.
  • The incompatibility of human rights discourse with a particularly Irish cultural or religious outlook.
  • The usefulness of human rights institutions.
  • The subject of human rights discourse and the rights claims of the marginalised.
  • The spread of human rights beyond their ‘original’ territory – human rights ‘mission creep’.

What we’re looking for really are coherent, readable punchy posts – from scholars of all disciplines – about ideas which, though they might be quite familiar to you, don’t get much of an airing in the media. It is very important that the posts address head-on standard critiques of human rights law and institutions in a reasoned and balanced way. Posts applying theory to concrete problems are best, but we’re not averse to high falutin’ theory either. Alternative/radical/rejuvenated visions of human rights are also of interest.

van Turnhout on Budget 2010: The Rights of the Child

December 11, 2009 1 comment

HRiI has  the pleasure of introducing a further guest blog on the impact of Budget 2010 from Jillian van Turnhout, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance.

Budget 2010 was the most discussed, debated, analysed and awaited Budget in the country’s history.  Never before has a Budget generated so much anticipation, concern – even fear – across all sectors of society.  At home and abroad Budget 2010 was seen as the Government’s chance to show that it was capable of leading the country out of recession; and could demonstrate to international partners that Ireland can take steps to reverse its misfortunes and emerge strong.  The McCarthy Report on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure (‘An Bord Snip Nua’ report)[1] and the Commission on Taxation Report,[2] both published in summer 2009, advised Government on how to achieve an overall budgetary adjustment of €4 billion.  At Cabinet, it was agreed that this year the focus would be on cuts, not taxation.

In total, measures announced in Budget 2010 amounted to €4 billion in savings, made up of over €1 billion from the public sector pay bill, €760 million from social welfare, €980 million from day-to-day spending programmes, and €960 million from investment projects.  With these reductions, the Government aims to stabilise the national deficit in a fair way, safeguard those worst hit by the recession, and stimulate the crucial sectors of the economy to sustain and create jobs.

Read more…

Blog Carnival Conclusion: The Human Rights Implications of Budget 2010

December 10, 2009 2 comments

This Wordle is drawn from the text in all the contributors posts.

As with all blog carnivals, my first task to is to thank those who contributed today: Elaine, Aoife, Danielle, Fergal, Eilonoir, Deirdre, Mairead and Vicky.

Please find all the blog contributions below:

Human Rights and Equality Infrastructure

Criminal Justice System

Targeting the Lost Generation

Women Poverty & Violence

Children’s Rights

The Rights of People with Disabilities

Welfare Cuts and Human Rights

The Right to Work in Ireland

The only task left to me is to close this blog carnival. Today, we have discussed the rights affected in a very academic sense. What we have done is show you the reality of this budget for a segment of the population living in the Republic of Ireland.  This budget will have a minimal impact on some, a more appreciable impact on most, and a noticable  impact on the less well off.

Rather than draw conclusions from the posts above, I will allow you to draw your own conclusions. Did we neglect to discuss the dire economic situation which Ireland is facing? Did we properly discuss the fact that billions of Euro are being spent on bank and business subsidies? Did we properly question the whole economic system upon which Budget 2010 is based? Is the economic system which much of the world has in place conducive to human rights protection?  These are issues not only for the Republic of Ireland to face, but for the globe at large.

Thornton on Budget 2010: Human Rights and Equality Infrastructure

December 10, 2009 2 comments

With the massive cuts in Budget 2009 for the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority, both bodies have maintained their much reduced budgets for 2010. The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman has also maintained its 2009 Budget.

Danielle and Fergal have discussed the impact of the budget on children’s rights here, while Vicky has commented upon the increases and cutbacks in the criminal legal aid scheme and criminal justice here. Eilonoir has noted the increases and cutbacks for those with disabilities here.

I will concentrate on the other areas within the broad human rights and equality infrastructure in this post. Read more…

Conway on Budget 2010: The Irish Criminal Justice System

December 10, 2009 2 comments

This post is contributed by our regular contributor Dr. Vicky Conway. You can read about Vicky on our Contributors page.

The most apparent implication of Budget 2010 for the criminal justice system has been the threat of strike action by members of the Garda Representative Association (covering circa 12,000 members of the force), on the basis of the public sector pay cuts. The government, on the advice of the AG has warned of the criminal implications of such action, a statement reinforced by the Garda Commissioner. Prof Dermot Walsh has argued however, that there is in fact no legal bar on strike action, only on joining a trade union. The GRA does not appear, at the time of writing, to have made a statement on the Budget, but given AGSI’s response, that it is ‘an attack on its members’, we may well see a ballot of GRA members on strike action in the coming weeks. Let’s not forget other workers, such as prison officers, who may also choose to strike. In the past prison strikes have required Gardaí to serve in prisons, which clearly is problematic if they too are striking.

Read more…

Duffy on Budget 2010: Targeting the Lost Generation

December 10, 2009 5 comments

This is our third guest post from Deirdre Duffy. You can read about Deirdre on our Guest Contributors page.

At present, young people, particularly young men under 24 are the biggest losers in the economic downturn. The generation who entered the workforce in a period of unprecedented growth now make up the largest proportion of Ireland’s unemployed. Like their predecessors in the 1970s and 1980s, they will not only suffer the brunt of the economic downturn but it is likely that the career pathways and prospects of many members of this group will never recover. Already Ireland is experiencing a new wave of economically-driven emigration, many of whom will never return. At the sake of being accused of alarmism, Ireland is steadily allowing a generation of young people to be pushed to the sidelines and facing a return to the culture of exit, of emigration, endemic to Irish society until the 1990s.

Read more…

Enright on Budget 2010: Women, Poverty & Violence

December 10, 2009 2 comments

This post is HRinI’s final contribution to the 16 days campaign. It relies heavily on the National Women’s Council of Ireland Pre-Budget Submission 2010. Whether or not this budget represents a last ‘big push’ towards economic recovery,  for many Irish women it is not a push from manageable to bearable. It is a push from just about bearable to unsupportable.

Women had tended to enter this recession on a weak footing, because many women work ‘flexible’, informal and part-time jobs which enable them to find time for caring responsibilities within the family; these, of course, are still a significant factor in women’s career decisions. Women in such jobs have tended to lose ‘hours’ as a result of the economic downturn. (Caring responsibilities have also exerted pressure from another direction as some employers have cut back on supports for family women in an effort to save money).

Read more…