Austerity is undermining Ireland’s human rights

22 November 2012

An international conference on economics and human rights in Dublin this morning heard that austerity measures are undermining human rights for people living in Ireland, and millions more around the world.


Protest against community cutsThe conference, organised by Amnesty International Ireland, looked at the impact of austerity on human rights.


It examined how other countries, including fellow EU members, have successfully used constitutional human rights protections to direct funding to particular services and to evaluate austerity measures proposed by governments.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “The Government is determined to fulfill its obligations to the bondholders and institutions like the ECB and the IMF. 

“But Ireland promised the UN Human Rights Council last year it would protect human rights here during the economic crisis. So what about its obligations to the Irish people, to protecting our rights to housing, health and education?


Budget and human rights
“Decisions made in the budget next month will directly affect people’s access to essential services that Ireland has acknowledged are fundamental human rights.

“But there is little evidence the Government is taking this obligation seriously, despite a commitment in the Programme for Government requiring ‘public bodies to take due note of equality and human rights’. 

“Human rights and economics do not exist in separate realities. Economic decisions affect our access to human rights. And we believe that the principles and frameworks of human rights law must be used by the Government to decide how it allocates resources during the current economic crisis.”


Support for human rights

The conference also heard that polling in Ireland shows support for rights like access to healthcare and adequate housing has remained high throughout the recession, and enjoy overwhelming support for their constitutional incorporation. 

Despite this, and support from the opposition parties, the Government has refused to give the Constitutional Convention, due to meet for the first time next month, a mandate to examine these issues.


Image caption: Protest against cutbacks in Dublin. Copyright: Paula Geraghty.