Monday 23 October 2017

UN scrutinises Ireland's accountability for 'collection' of state abuses

Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Frances Fitzgerald

Sam Griffin

The UN Human Rights Council has criticised Ireland for not taking accountability for the “collection” of state abuses including Magdalene Laundries, the mother and baby home revelations and symphysiotomy procedures.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was today heading an Irish delegation for the second and final day before the UN.

The delegation faced further scrutiny under a variety of issues as part of Ireland’s fourth examination of its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In his closing remarks, the council chair Nigel Rodley said there were remained “many social issues” that need to be addressed by the State which he described as “quite a collection”.

“It’s (the issue of abuses) carried on beyond any period that is hard to imagine how the state party can tolerate,” he said.

“I guess I comprehend myself from observing that all (the issues) are not disconnected from the institutional belief system that has predominated in the state party and which occasionally has sought to dominate the state party.

He said one Irish NGO had reported “breathtaking arrogance” of the meaning of the right to live bill when compared with the meaning of the international covenant.

He added “it was good to see” the life of the woman had been clarified but said he was sorry the laws didn’t extend to the health of the woman as well.

“Life without quality of life is not something we should have to choose between,” the chair said. The issue was “even more difficult” to comprehend in cases of rape.

On the issue of symphysiotomy, he said the procedure had been in breach of the covenant and said the state needed to address the issue of accountability immediately.

“There remains the problem of accountability,” he told the council.

“The issue that remains for the state party is what it is going to do about accountability. Accountability for its own responsibility, accountability for its failures to monitor what others have been doing and the accountability of others who are committing abuses that the state might well be able to think of as crimes.

“The accountability that I mention has been missing so far,” Nigel Rodley concluded.

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