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The Saker
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Public Inquiry
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Voltaire Network
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The Irish government don't want you to know about

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Monday December 07, 2009 12:24author by Amnesty Ireland - Amnesty Internationalauthor email commassistant at amnesty dot ie Report this post to the editors

The Irish government can be taken to the UN for failing to deliver social, economic and political rights it guarantees to all its citizens.

Twenty years ago, on 8 December 2009, the Irish Government ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). They refuse to re-ratify it, and have failed to deliver on it for the past twenty years.
The Irish government's best kept secret...
The Irish government's best kept secret...

Twenty years ago tomorrow the Irish Government ratified a legally binding international treaty guaranteeing everyone living in Ireland fundamental human rights. Amnesty International Ireland today described the treaty as “one of the country’s best kept secrets” and launched an online campaign encouraging people to take action in support of their human rights.

“When the Irish Government ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1989 we were guaranteed rights to health, housing, education, an adequate standard of living and more, but the vast majority of Irish people have never heard of it,” said Amnesty International Ireland Executive Director Colm O’Gorman.

Amnesty International Ireland has launched a new website, www.amnesty.ie/secret, and contacted over 10,000 people online asking for their help to spread the word about the treaty the Irish Government doesn’t want you to read.

“It’s one of Ireland’s best kept secrets that each of us has these rights and that successive governments have had a duty to deliver them,” continued Mr O’Gorman. “Later this week the budget will be published, we know some tough choices have to be made but the Government has a legal obligation to deliver on these human rights and the evidence so far shows it’s falling short.

“We’re supposed to have a right to free primary education but 74 per cent of parents are asked for a contribution to their school’s running costs every year.

“We’re supposed to have a right to housing but four and a half thousand people are homeless at any one time, about a thousand of whom are children.

“We’re supposed to have a right to health but hundreds of children are detained in adult mental health facilities because there is not enough child appropriate accommodation.

A new protocol to the treaty was recently agreed that would allow people living in Ireland to take the Government to the United Nations if it was failing to work to deliver these rights. Thirty countries, including Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Argentina have signed it. Ireland has not.

“People can only demand their rights from the Government if they know they exist,” said Mr O’Gorman.

“We’ll be asking everyone who logs on to www.amnesty.ie/secret to email the Taoiseach and call on him to sign up to the new protocol. Ireland says a lot about human rights on the world stage, it’s time to stand up for human rights in Ireland.”

Related Link: http://www.amnesty.ie
author by Mike Novackpublication date Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Need to discuss precisely what we DO mean when we say "X has a right to Y"

It is clear that this means "No Z can take Y away from X or place an obstruction between X getting Y".
It is far less clear that it means "Z has an obligation to provide Y to X"

STOP -- don't take me wrong here. I am not saying that this shouldn't be so, not saying that there isn't an obligation to provide Y to X. But I am saying that this wouldn't come just from "X has a right to Y" but from the much stronger "X has an entitlement to Y".

And even in that case, you can't necessarily make the jump from SOMEBODY must have the obligation to privide Y to X to lay that obligation where you please. You need some additional assumptions about "assignment of duties" becuase otherwise you can't get from "somebody has this duty" to "HE (or she) has this duty".

author by Jimbopublication date Mon Dec 07, 2009 14:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

All good points there but a lot of what you're asking for has been laid out. The treaty guarantees the rights. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the implementation of the right and interprets it through what are called General Comments. Every State is also obliged to periodically report to the Committee on what it has done to deliver these rights.

So the mechanisms, structures and interpretations you're asking for are, in many cases, laid out in Committee decisions or comments.

More here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/

author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Mon Dec 07, 2009 16:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shell to sea was informed 2 years ago that the civil servants studying the Arhus convention found it satisfactory but that the politicians did not want to ratify it. Eamon Ryan knows all about it but chooses to ignore it.
It would be great if Amnesty International added this to their agenda as well.
THE IRISH PEOPLE ARE BEING CONNED BY FIANNA FAIL CONTINUOUSLY. WHEN WILL THEY WAKE UP?

author by Mr Manpublication date Mon Dec 07, 2009 21:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"We’re supposed to have a right to free primary education but 74 per cent of parents are asked for a contribution to their school’s running costs every year"

Key word here is 'asked'. Not required. Not that terrible that a school that relies on minimum funds to ask for a voluntary contribution.

"We’re supposed to have a right to housing but four and a half thousand people are homeless at any one time, about a thousand of whom are children"

Homelessness isn't just a matter of no free housing, it is a complex social problem that cannot be solved by offering people houses. Ask any homeless advocate group.

"We’re supposed to have a right to health but hundreds of children are detained in adult mental health facilities because there is not enough child appropriate accommodation"

Not exactly denying the right to health by providing the same services to children as provided to adults. Not appropriate, but as long as the govt provides a minimum standard of care they aren't in violation the treaty

author by Jimbopublication date Mon Dec 07, 2009 21:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Homelessness isn't just a matter of no free housing, it is a complex social problem that cannot be solved by offering people houses. Ask any homeless advocate group."

Yes it is. You could also ask anyone who's worked on housing rights issues. Nowhere is 'free housing' being proposed as the one and only solution to the issue.

"Not exactly denying the right to health by providing the same services to children as provided to adults. Not appropriate, but as long as the govt provides a minimum standard of care they aren't in violation the treaty"

Yes they are. The right to health as explained in General Comment 14 specifically states that health care must be appropriate, not minimum, and under progressive realisation (Article Two of ICESCR) the achievement of the right must be done progressively. In other words if you can't deliver the right straight away you need to prove progress towards it. That's not 'minimum'.

http://www.aspire-irl.org/General%20Comment%2014.pdf

I get the point you're trying to make, that it's a lot more complicated than simply saying the right exists and you're right. But where I think you're wrong is the suggestion that decades of human rights law and decisions haven't already covered and gone into a lot of these areas.

 
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