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Mauled by the Celtic Tiger – CESR report published

February 13th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Irish Politics, Recession, Social Policy

International human rights organisation the Centre for Economic and Social Rights yesterday published a report reviewing the impact of recession on human rights in Ireland. Mauled by the Celtic Tiger: Human Rights in Ireland’s Economic Meltdown reviews Ireland’s commitments to international human rights instruments, research and statistics available on the impact of austerity on Human, economic and social rights and interviews with key actors. The report outlines where Ireland has consistently violated its obligations under international human rights law in its handling of the economic crisis. The CESR have provided reports on this area before including a submission about Ireland to the Universal Periodic Review last year. A read through the other countries who have been examined by the CESR might depress you further – Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Ecuador Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras India, Iraq, Ireland, Kenya. Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Peru, Spain, Syria, United States. All this before Ireland seeks election to the UN Human Rights council next month.

Hopefully this makes for very difficult reading for people on the backbenches of the Labour Party before the meeting with their party leader on Thursday.

A series of recommendations are made about the human rights impact assessment of government policies, need for action on social housing provision, importance of independent equality and human rights infrastructure and positive action measures that are needed to support vulnerable groups and minorities.

One area I have not seen before is a call on the countries and institutions bailing us out to remember their human rights obligations in lending.

Creditor countries and institutions should comply with their extraterritorial obligation not to impede economic and social rights protection in Ireland.

Governments in countries that either count themselves among Ireland’s creditors, or are home to its creditor institutions, must take steps to comply with their extraterritorial human rights obligations by ensuring that the repayment of Ireland’s debts does not interfere with the protection of economic and social rights in the country. International institutions that influence the enjoyment of economic and social rights in Ireland, in particular the EU and IMF, should likewise ensure all policy agreements with Ireland comply with human rights standards, and should consider renegotiating the terms of rescue loans where these have undermined economic and social rights.

Similarly, the European Central Bank should take steps to protect economic and social rights in Ireland, including considering the recommendation to take on some proportion of the country’s unsustainable debts itself and/or requiring bondholders to accept an appropriate level of responsibility. Those foreign banks proven to have behaved irresponsibly should meanwhile be pressured to take on a fair proportion of the debt through equity swaps or other similar means.

So next time they are in with the Troika the various pillars of the social partnership and opposition parties might try that one on Klaus, Istvan and Craig. Or maybe Vincent Browne can read the report and use it for his questions at the next press conference.

The paragraph below looks at the impact of austerity and recession on people with disabilities. We have had very little reflection on the totality of the cuts and delays and denials of rights – I would think that interviews with people with disabilities rather than the organisations paid for by the state might say even more if the CESR want to come back again.

People with disabilities have likewise been negatively affected by recent budgets. This group has experienced a long history of mistreatment at the hands of the Irish state, which has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Ireland’s disabled population was severely affected by both the 2010, 2011 and 2012 budgets, with successive cuts to the disability allowance. The 2012 spending plan sees the allowance paid to people with disabilities aged 18 to 21 reduced from €752 to €400 a month, though this measure has been put on hold pending a review by the Commission on Taxation and Welfare. The disablement pension has also been slashed, along with the carer’s allowance, thus creating a situation in which many disabled persons may be effectively ‘imprisoned in their own homes’.

Needless to say, those with disabilities have also been disproportionately affected by the aforementioned cuts to education services, such as student support grants and teacher support services, which have been subject to successive reductions. Civil society’s capacity to respond in the face of regressive policy measures has simultaneously been weakened by drastic reductions in state support to the voluntary sector, with a recent Disability Federation survey finding over three quarters of member organizations had been either ‘significantly’ or ‘very significantly’ hit by the recession.

Although such cuts affect other groups as well, it must be underlined that people with disabilities are particularly reliant on the support of the voluntary sector. Meanwhile, Ireland’s disabled population continues to wait for the governing coalition to publish an implementation plan for the National Disability Strategy, as promised in its Program for Government.


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