Human rights group calls for end to slopping out

IRELAND must “immediately” end slopping out in prisons and make an “unconditional commitment” to move people with intellectual disabilities out of psychiatric institutions, the country’s official human rights body has said.

In a hard-hitting “report card” to the United Nations, the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said unequal access to healthcare in Ireland raised “questions of discrimination”.

The state body said its work had been “seriously undermined” by “disproportionate and drastic” cuts in funding, which had also decimated sister bodies, such as the Equality Authority.

The IHRC has made a submission to the UN, which for the first time will audit Ireland’s human rights obligations this October.

The agency made 35 recommendations across health, education, immigration, criminal justice and social welfare. These include:

* Recognise Travellers as an ethnic group.

* Increase payments to asylum seekers and ensure no one is kept in direct provision accommodation for longer than a year.

* End slopping out in prisons immediately, tackle overcrowding without delay and draw up a comprehensive penal policy, including alternatives to custody.

* Ireland must make an “unconditional commitment” to move all persons with an intellectual disability out of psychiatric institutions into community settings within a defined time limit.

The IHRC called for an overhaul of the education system, where 98% of all primary schools are still under religious patronage.

“There have been serious gaps in the state’s efforts to date to meet its human rights obligations,” said Dr Maurice Manning, president of the IHRC.

The report said cuts to social welfare, child benefit and minimum wage, as well as the universal social charge will “seriously damage” the state’s ability to eradicate consistent poverty by 2016.



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