Skip to main content

Equality, data protection and human rights bodies to merge

Resource type: News

The Irish Times |

Original Source DEAGLáN DE BRéADÚN, Political Correspondent THE GOVERNMENT is proposing to merge the Equality Authority, the Irish Human Rights Commission and the office of the Data Protection Commissioner into a single agency, The Irish Timeshas learned The agencies are being consulted and will be given until September 12th to respond. No final decision will be taken before then. However, the agencies have reportedly been told that “there’s no point in fighting it, it’s going to happen”. The proposal is contained in a circular from the Department of Finance to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Official sources said it reflected Government thinking and tied in with the broad approach of Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern in the area. The circular was quoted by Sean Aylward, secretary general of the Department of Justice, at a meeting in Dublin Castle yesterday morning with representatives of all agencies and bodies in “the justice family”. Mr Aylward used the document to brief agency heads on the Government’s plans in the light of economic developments. He told them the Department of Finance had suggested the merger would be “a natural fit”. The suggestion is likely to meet with little opposition from Mr Ahern who takes the view that there are too many semi-official agencies and that rationalisation is required. There have been calls for some time from the Opposition to reduce the number of quangos. Official sources said that other “sweeping changes” were being proposed with regard to agencies operating under the auspices of several departments. The Equality Authority was due to be decentralised to Roscrea, Co Tipperary, but there is some uncertainty about this, in view of the Government’s programme of expenditure cutbacks. The authority, headed by chief executive Niall Crowley, has been a thorn in the side of the establishment for some time due to its meticulous pursuit of its remit. The Human Rights Commission, set up under the Belfast Agreement and chaired by academic and former Fine Gael TD Maurice Manning, clashed at the end of last year with Mr Ahern in his previous role as minister for foreign affairs. The commission maintained that diplomatic assurances from the US administration that CIA “extraordinary rendition” flights carrying terrorist suspects were not using Shannon airport were insufficient for Ireland to meet its human rights obligations but Mr Ahern said the commission had failed to do justice to the Government’s position. The Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, is responsible for upholding the right to privacy and individuals’ right to know how their personal information is used. © 2008 The Irish Times

Related Resources


Human Rights & Reconciliation

Global Impact:

Republic of Ireland


Human Rights Commission