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'Most vulnerable forced to bear brunt of recession'


Emily Logan

Emily Logan

Emily Logan

The most vulnerable people in society bore the brunt of suffering caused by the recession, according to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

In its first report, the newly established IHREC, headed by Emily Logan, says the austerity measures placed on the public by the State lead to the burden of the crisis falling disproportionally on people with disabilities, people on lower income, the unemployed and the homeless.

"Our report highlights the stark choices made by Government [during the recession] that fell short of the basic core standards required in terms of upholding human rights," said Dr Mary Murphy lecturer of sociology at NUI Maynooth.

The report highlights numerous human rights abuses suffered by vulnerable groups.

The report show that disabled people were discriminated against the most when looking for employment during the recession. It also found homelessness is increasing as a direct result of government policy in relation to housing budgets and particularly social housing. The report raised concerns about 63pc of lone parents experiencing deprivation of basic requirements guaranteed under human rights law.

It also found that Traveller children faced significant discrimination when trying to get into some schools.


Furthermore, austerity was the wrong strategy to impose during the recession according to the group, who said that the government could have burned bond holders or offered easy terms and conditions for loans as an alternative.

Members from the IHREC will go to Geneva, Switzerland next week where they will address a UN Committee. They plan to highlight their concerns about human rights abuses suffered by vulnerable groups. At the address the IHREC will assess the State's performance on protecting human rights.

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs Sean Sherlock will also travel to the meeting with the IHREC group.

Speaking alongside Ms Logan, Dr Murphy and barrister David Joyce called for the IHREC to be the designated group to provide independent oversight of human rights issues in Ireland and to hold the State accountable for human rights abuses.

A major focus of the report is aimed at protecting the rights of people with disabilities.

"We will be putting significant pressure on the government to accelerate the ratification of a convention for the rights of a person with a disability," Ms Logan said.

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Following the IHREC's report to the UN commission, it will then deliver its feedback to the State within weeks.

"The recommendations made by the UN are not binding but they are very persuasive," added Ms Logan.

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