Human rights a great idea, but not at home

YOUR political correspondent Harry McGee’s account (Irish Examiner, June 29) of the Government’s abject failure to deliver on its own promise of a rights-based Disability Bill highlights again the huge challenges facing those working to seek social justice in Ireland.

Disability groups and many others from varied sectors representing women, the elderly, children, travellers, the homeless, refugees, health service users, minorities, etc have all accurately identified the human rights based approach as the way to address their needs and to deliver on their entitlements.

However, the Government is continuing to propagate the myth that human rights based legislation will present an unbearable burden on the state.

When Government ministers sneer at equality and ignore the views of the state's own human rights advisory bodies, what they are demonstrating is fear of the accountability, transparency and rigour of international law.

What is required in Ireland is a system that is uncontaminated by prejudice and divorced from clientilism.

The myths promoted by some politicians and commentators regarding the financial burden of a human rights based approach are quite easily addressed by the concept of progressive realisation.

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights made a scathing criticism of Ireland's failure to deliver on a human rights based approach to disability when it concluded: "The committee notes the favourable economic conditions prevailing in Ireland and observes no insurmountable factors or difficulties preventing the state from implementing economic, social and cultural rights."

We are great when it comes to promoting human rights abroad why is our Government so hostile to the concept of human rights at home?

At the request of many groups and organisations in this country, the Irish section of Amnesty International is now providing training courses in the human rights based approach. The next course will take place in Cork, in September.

To request more information on this course, and our national conference on human rights based approaches on September 27, please email hrba@amnesty.ie.

Brian Ruane

Human Rights Education Manager

Amnesty Irish Section

48 Fleet Street

Dublin 2

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