FORMER junior minister Tom Kitt has criticised government human rights policy just days after the Fianna Fáil TD called for Taoiseach Brian Cowen to consider standing down.
Mr Kitt’s criticisms relate to the failure of the Government to ratify a new protocol to the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which many EU states committed to a year ago.
The new Optional Protocol commits governments to protect and deliver on internationally agreed human rights like health and housing. It also allows individuals to complain to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights if their rights under the covenant have been violated.
Mr Kitt said: “If Ireland doesn’t ratify the treaty, the Government must explain why we here in Ireland shouldn’t be entitled to the same protections as the people of Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Finland and other countries around the world.”
He added; “All that this new treaty means is that if someone in Ireland exhausts all the options available to them here, and still believes their right to education, or to health, is being neglected, they can complain to the United Nations.
“Surely if we are trying to figure out the best way to deliver, for example, the right to health in Ireland, shouldn’t we be open to ideas from the world’s top experts on the subject?”
Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland Colm O’Gorman backed Mr Kitt’s position.
He said: “The Government is condemning the people of this country to a second-class system of human rights.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved