Posts Tagged ‘programme for government’

Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2010

January 26, 2010 1 comment

On Monday, the Children’s Rights Alliance launched its annual ‘report card‘. The report card examines whether the Government has honoured the promises it has made to children living in Ireland. These commitments are found in Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016; the Programme for Government 2007-2012 and the Renewed Programme for Government, 2009; the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion 2007-2016, and the Ryan Report Implementation Plan, 2009. The executive summary of the report is here and the full report is here. The Alliance awarded the government a ‘D-‘ grade overall.

The Alliance says:

In Ireland, we believe that we value children, but the startling evidence shows otherwise. Of the 29 commitments, 7 have made progress or shown improvement, 9 have remained static or cannot yet be monitored, and a further 13 are lagging seriously behind. In times of crisis and emergency, it is only natural that we would expect children to come first, but the evidence shows the opposite is true, on some issues the Government is putting its head in the sand.

In a similar vein, this article in yesterday’s Irish Times partly attributed the rise in the number of children taken into care last year to the economic downturn.

Valuing the ‘Parent’ within the Home: Proposals in the Renewed Programme for Government

October 24, 2009 1 comment

constitutionOn the day of the Green Party Convention to consider the proposed revised programme for government we followed the activities as much as we could in this post. One of the commitments contained within the PfG is that a constitutional referendum would be held to amend Article 41.2 of Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Constitution of Ireland) to refer not to women and mothers within the home (as is currently the case) but to the parent within the home. Article 41.2 currently provides:

1° In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.

2° The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

This controversial constitutional provision is, perhaps, a product of its time. Adopted following a plebiscite of the people in 1937, the Irish Constitution’s tendency towards Catholic sensibilities has been widely documented notwithstanding the fact that it espouses secular values. Article 41.2 is gender specific and reflects an expectation that women and mothers would be the primary care-givers within the home. Read more…

New Programme for Government Promises the Introduction of Gender Recognition Legislation

October 16, 2009 5 comments

Dr Lydia FoyNext Monday it will be two years since Mr Justice Liam McKechnie handed down his groundbreaking decision in Foy v An tArd Chlaraitheoir (No 2). In that case His Lordship issued the first ever Declaration of Incompatibility between Irish law and Ireland’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. The cause of the incompatibility was the inability of Irish law to recognise the preferred gender identity of transgender people.

The Declaration should have put in motion a series of events which would have resulted in the Taoiseach reading the order into the records of each House of the Oireachtas within 21 working days (s5 of the ECHR Act, 2003). However, as this was the first time such an order had been handed down, His Lordship put a stay of two months on the implementation of the order to give the State the opportunity to decide whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. On Friday, March 28th 2008 notice of such an appeal was lodged with the Supreme Court. The case has yet to be listed for hearing.

Read more…

Women and Children First?

October 14, 2009 1 comment

The new Programme For Government addresses the issue of domestic violence (at p. 72) and pledges in particular that the government will ‘set up a Domestic Violence Fund under which we will increase the number of refuge spaces.’ Yesterday – on the same day that the children’s organisation Barnardo’s reported a serious shortfall in its funding – the national representative body for women’s frontline domestic violence services Safe Ireland launched two important reportsSafety and Change and On the 4th November 2008 – which underscore the importance of making this promise a reality. Launching the reports, the Director of Safe Ireland, Sharon O’ Halloran said:

“I would like to be able to tell you we are making significant progress to eradicate this violence, but I cannot. What I will tell you is that services are being cut back all the time by this Government, that services are stretched and cannot stretch any more…We are hearing talk of cuts of up to 30 per cent to some services. That’s staff, resources, supports all being cut, at a time when demand is up. As I said, we know it increased 21 per cent last year and we know it’s going to be further up this year.”

Safety and Change is an evaluation of Irish women’s refuges by Prof Cris Sullivan of Michigan State University which surveys the views of women who have used their services. The evaluation is a fantastic resource – the first of its kind in Europe – and will reward in-depth reading. On the 4th November 2008 presents a census. Safe Ireland counted the number of women  and  children  receiving  support  and  accommodation from its organisations due  to  domestic  violence within  a  24  hour period. The following graphics are taken from the census document. The 6 women represented in the last graphic form part of a group of 1,722 women who could not be accommodated at refuges last year due to lack of space.


Developments on the Revised Programme for Government

October 10, 2009 1 comment

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.

Renegotiating the Programme for Government: Whither Human Rights?

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

cla97sAs previously mentioned here, this week has seen the government partners engage in a renegotiation of the programme for government. While we were made aware before the commencement of the talks that the Green Party had an extensive ‘wish list’ and that commitment to human rights and rights-related organisations featured on that list, there has been something of a veil of silence surrounding developments since then (also noted by Ferdinand von Prondzynski this morning). This morning’s Irish Times, however, informs us that education (especially teacher:pupil ratios) and electoral reform (especially a reduction in the number of TDs) have moved to the centre stage of the negotiations. Of course, both of these areas have human rights implications too–effective education, effective representative political systems etc… are important for the creation of conditions in which people can exercise their rights to the fullest degree–but they are decidedly long-term in terms of having embedded human rights impacts. The early talk of insisting upon the adequate funding of the Equality Authority, for example, seems to have quietened to a whisper and it is difficult to avoid the suspicion that either agreement on this was easily reached or it has slipped to the bottom of the agenda. We continue to wait to see the details of the proposed agreement. The Green Party is scheduled to meet tomorrow to consider whether the renegotiated programme will be approved by 2/3 of the members (the margin needed to keep the Green Party in government) and we can expect to see some details tonight or in the morning.

UPDATE: RTE Radio’s 9am news informs me that Éamon Ryan (Green Party, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) has announced that unless agreement is reached by lunchtime today the Green Partyministers will resign. They had not reached agreement by lunchtime. They did not resign…

Photo credit

Equality and Human Rights on the Political Agenda

October 5, 2009 2 comments

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) Read more…