The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent body set up under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 on 1 November 2014. Under the Act, the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission were dissolved and their functions transferred to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
The functions of the Commission are to:
The Commission carries out these functions by:
The Commission can assist you to further human rights issues by either holding an enquiry or assisting you with legal proceedings. An enquiry is where the Commission examines a particular case of possible human rights abuse. It can be conducted in public or private as the Commission decides and has the power to require relevant information, documentation or people to attend.
If you want the Commission to conduct an enquiry into a relevant human right matter or to grant assistance in relation to legal proceedings involving issues of human rights you must first be clear what the human right issue is. When you make your request to the Commission:
The Commission cannot act beyond its powers. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission can conduct an enquiry or assist with legal proceeding if the case is linked to one of the following:
The Commission is not an adjudicator body in respect of complaints of human rights violations in Ireland. It cannot offer remedies or compensation in cases where human rights have been violated. It cannot overturn court, or tribunal decisions, or require government departments to give entitlements to people who may feel they have an entitlement. It can however, conduct an enquiry to find out if existing law or practice meets human rights standards, or take or assist with legal proceedings.
Contact the Commission for more information about how requests for an enquiry or legal assistance are assessed.
There are 2 distinct pieces of legislation in place which set out equality rights for people and specifically outlaw discrimination when it occurs. The Employment Equality Acts 1998–2011 and the Equal Status Acts 2000–2012 outlaw discrimination in employment, vocational training, advertising, collective agreements, the provision of goods and services. Specifically, goods and services include professional or trade services; health services; access to accommodation and education; facilities for banking, transport and cultural activities.
Under equality legislation discrimination based on any one of 9 distinct grounds is unlawful. These grounds are:
Discrimination is defined as less favourable treatment. A person is said to be discriminated against if he or she is treated less favourably than another is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the 9 grounds. To establish direct discrimination, a direct comparison must be made, for example, in the case of disability discrimination the comparison must be between a person who has a disability and another who has not, or between persons with different disabilities.
Indirect discrimination occurs when practices or policies that do not appear to discriminate against one group more than another actually have a discriminatory impact. It can also happen where a requirement that may appear non-discriminatory.
Complaints under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2011 must be brought within 6 months of the last act of discrimination. You can make a complaint using the new online complaint form (available by selecting ‘Make a complaint in relation to equality’ on workplacerelations.ie).
To make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2012 you must first notify the person or organisation you are making the complaint against within 2 months of the last act of discrimination. If you are not satisfied with the service provider's response, or if they have made no response within 1 month from the date you notified them, you can bring a complaint to the Equality Tribunal within 6 months of the last act of discrimination.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.