Government blow to a republic of equals

THE 43% cut in the budget of the Equality Authority and the subsequent resignation of its chief executive, Niall Crowley, are a cause of great concern to all of us who believe that equality is one of the necessary means of guarding freedom and democracy in a republic.

That this has been accompanied by a significant cut in the budget of the Human Rights Commission, the demise of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism and the subsuming of the Combat Poverty Agency into a government department suggests that equality and rights are not regarded as important by the Government of this Republic.

The Ireland Institute has been promoting republican values for a number of years now in our programmes of lectures and in our publications.

We believe the common good should be the first priority of Government and active citizenship is essential to ensure it. Freedom is a primary objective of a Republic, and equality is crucial to this aim. In the absence of equality, neither freedom nor the common good can be maintained. We wonder why the

Government launched such an attack on equality and rights in the budget.

Perhaps it is because of the fact that in 2007, 49% of Equality Authority case files under the employment equality acts and 69% of Equality Authority case files under the equal status acts involved allegations of discrimination against public sector bodies — government departments, State agencies, local authorities and educational establishments.

Perhaps it is also because this Government shares the view of a previous member, Michael McDowell, that inequality is necessary to drive economic enterprise.

Whatever the reason, this attack on equality and rights will do nothing to promote freedom and democracy in this republic.

The sooner these cutbacks are reversed, the better.

Robert Ballagh


The Ireland Institute

27 Pearse Street

Dublin 2.

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