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Dublin: 21 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Human rights commission issues hard-hitting UN 'report card'

The Irish Human Rights Commission demands an end to ‘slopping out’ in prisons, and referenda on women’s and children’s rights.

Dublin's Mountjoy Prison: the Irish Human Rights Commission has demanded an immediate end to 'slopping out' in Ireland's jails.
Dublin's Mountjoy Prison: the Irish Human Rights Commission has demanded an immediate end to 'slopping out' in Ireland's jails.
Image: David Greene/PA Archive

IRELAND’S OFFICIAL WATCHDOG on human rights has demanded the immediate end to slopping out in Ireland’s prisons, and referenda on the rights of the child and on female equality, in a document prepared for the United Nations.

The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC)’s ‘report card’ on Ireland’s progress in upholding human rights issues over 35 recommendations aimed at tackling what it sees as Ireland’s “human rights deficit”.

Among the report’s findings are recommendations on recognising Travellers as a distinct ethnic group, as well as giving further recognition to people with disabilities, and reform of the social welfare system.

It further demands the immediate end of the practice of ‘slopping out’ in prisons – where those in the country’s penal system are forced to urinate and defecate in buckets in their cells, which they then have to empty themselves at fixed intervals.

IHRC president Dr Maurice Manning said there had been “serious gaps in the State’s efforts to date to meet its human rights obligations”, and that Ireland needed to introduce “key reforms at constitutional, legislative, policy and service level”.

“It is not acceptable that important human rights treaties that would increase protections for vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, migrant workers and people held in detention remain to be ratified”, Manning added.

Cuts in human rights resources imposed over the last three years had hampered the ability of human rights and equality bodies to hold the state to account, the IHRC added.

Another of the IHRC’s recommendations was to make it directly accountable to the Oireachtas.

“Human rights and equality are not optional extras for the good times,” Manning concluded.

In December, as part of events to mark World Human Rights Day – the IHRC had criticised the Budget’s plans to reduce the State’s services to asylum seekers.

Read the IHRC’s UN Report Card in full >

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Gavan Reilly

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