In September 2016, Equality Rights Alliance (ERA), in conjunction with SIPTU, the Independent Law Centres Network and the Employment Law Association of Ireland, hosted a roundtable discussion in Liberty Hall, Dublin called Building an Agenda for Change in the WRC. The aim of the roundtable was to discuss the operation of the WRC from an equality perspective and to generate a shared vision for the direction participants would like the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to take in enforcing employment equality and equal status legislation. The roundtable focused on the visibility of equality in the work of the WRC, how accessible the WRC is to people taking equality cases and how cases are processed under the WRC. Jane O’Sullivan, solicitor and policy officer with Community Law & Mediation, addressed the roundtable on the accessibility of the WRC to people facing discrimination. As a representative of the Independent Law Centres Network, she explored access to justice issues in taking equality cases.
The Social Welfare Bill 2016, published on the 4th of November 2016, gives legislative effect to the social welfare measures announced in Budget 2017. It also deals with a number of other unrelated matters. FLAC and CLM’s joint submission addresses a number of relevant issues including the general manner in which social welfare bills are presented in the Houses of the Oireachtas as well as specific parts of the Bill itself.
Ireland’s commitment to the implementation of The UN Convention on the
Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is due to
be examined in early 2017. As part of this process, the State submits a written
response to a list of issues identified by the CEDAW Committee, which is an
independent expert body within the United Nations. The National Women’s
Council of Ireland is drafting a Shadow Report for submission to the CEDAW
Committee and this is CLM’s submission to that Shadow Report. It has been
ten years since Ireland was last reviewed by this Committee. CLM, in its work
to improve access to justice over the last 41 years, works to tackle barriers to
justice and to highlight and challenge the disproportionate effect of unfair laws
and policies on certain groups in society, including women.
CLM has made a submission to an inter-departmental working group on fuller working lives. This submission on a roundtable held by CLM looks at the legal and policy considerations for older people in employment in Ireland and makes the case for introducing greater choice for individuals in their employment and retirement. It covers topics such as age discrimination in employment and the legal position on mandatory retirement and fixed term contracts after retirement. The report also provides a broad overview of the perception and experience of older workers in Irish society and looks at the benefits that gradual or phased retirement could bring. Women continue to be a particularly vulnerable group in the context of employment and retirement and the report looks at this persistent trend. Since the beginning of 2016, we have had a new forum in which older people whose employment and equality rights have been violated can go to – the Workplace Relations Commission. CLM looks at the new WRC in this context and comments on the impact of the lack of legal aid for employment and equality cases.
As members of the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of Ireland, Community Law and Mediation were kindly invited by the Law Society of Ireland to make submissions to the emergency Dáil Committee on Housing and Homelessness. The views expressed in the briefing paper and the presentation made to the Dáil Committee on the 10th May 2016 are the views of Community Law and Mediation.