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Cuts ‘impairing’ efforts to gather evidence of human rights abuses

Resource type: News

Irish Times | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By Jamie Smyth. 

GOVERNMENT PLEDGES to protect human rights are being broken due to cuts in services and support groups, a campaign has claimed.

Reporting on the rights abuses is also being affected by budget cuts, according to the “Your Rights. Right Now” campaign.

The group, made up of 17 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), aims to gather evidence of rights abuses to give to a United Nations review on Ireland’s human rights record.

Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Mark Kelly said all too often national and international laws promising to protect people’s rights are being broken.

“Right now, many people are seeing very clearly how politics and economics can impact directly on their lives . . . People care about their rights, right now,” he said.

Cuts to the Irish Human Rights Commission and Equality Authority’s budgets had, he said, “deeply impaired” their ability to collect evidence of rights abuses.

However, he said, the NGOs would prepare a report to give to the UN as part of its review process, due to take place in October. The Universal Periodic Review allows UN member states to review the human rights records of other members. This is the first time Ireland’s record will be analysed through the new rights monitoring system.

Members of the public can submit a report to the campaign at its website

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, several people gave personal accounts of their difficulties in accessing services. Gerard Gallagher, who has cerebral palsy and is disability rights officer for the Union of Students in Ireland, described how he needed special needs assistance at school and how he encountered some difficulties while at college.

“It is very important that we keep providing services for people with disabilities in the recession,” said Mr Gallagher.

Hazel Larkin said she found it very difficult to access appropriate mental health services at a time when she told doctors she was suicidal. She checked herself into a psychiatric hospital and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Ms Larkin said she was told this was not treatable through medication and was asked to leave the hospital as there was nothing that could be done for her.

“They handed me a list of therapists as if they were domestic cleaners and I had to organise and pay for my own therapy,” she said.

She said access to appropriate healthcare was a very basic human right and should be provided by the Government.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is an Atlantic grantee.


For more information on the “Your Rights. Right Now” campaign: