Order of Business Tuesday
12 July 2011
I will not give a preview of our question to the President of the European Parliament; I will leave that to my esteemed colleague, Senator van Turnhout. I have two questions for the Leader of the House relating to a significant process which Ireland is engaged in at present, its participation in the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, UPR. As Members are aware, the UPR process is an innovative mechanism under which countries are held to account every four years by their fellow member states in the United Nations on their complete performance across the full range of civil, political, social and economic rights.
Last week, the Irish Government submitted its report on its record. The report explicitly states a number of times that Ireland is deeply committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and that this is central to Ireland’s domestic and foreign policies. I encourage Members to review the Government’s report, if they have not already done so. It is a fascinating read and points to a number of achievements in Ireland’s efforts to protect and promote human rights. Of equal importance, it provides us, as law-makers, with a concrete expression of how and why the framing of legislation must be compliant with the human rights provisions of the Constitution and our international human rights obligations.
This Government report is one of the documents the UN member states will use when they examine our human rights record on 6 October. Another document is the stakeholder report. It is a compilation by the United Nations of submissions received from Irish civil society actors and the submission received from Ireland’s national human rights institution, the Irish Human Rights Commission. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties formed a coalition with an extensive number of organisations to produce Ireland’s civil society UPR stakeholder report, which was launched last May. The Irish Human Rights Commission issued its recommendation to the Government yesterday that, in advance of the UN examination, Ireland ought to name its voluntary commitments that will identify how it intends to reduce gaps in its human rights protections, such as an assessment of the human rights impact of welfare and service related decisions on those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.
Prior to Ireland’s examination by the Human Rights Council in October, could we invite one or two leaders to engage with us about their views on Ireland’s human rights record, for example, the president of the Irish Human Rights Commission, Dr. Maurice Manning, who is a former Leader of the Seanad, and a member of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties? This could provide us with another opportunity to implement the motion passed by the House to engage directly with leaders on issues of public importance. After Ireland’s examination and prior to the outcome report from the process that will be produced in early 2012 and which the Irish Government formally adopts, will the Leader consider inviting the Tánaiste or the Minister for Justice and Equality to the House to engage with us on how Ireland will commit itself to improving its human rights record in light of the UPR process?