Equality News Archive

Working Class heroes video

2010: European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion

ETUC Campaign

Trade Union TV of Belfast Pride 2010

Thousands recently marched through the streets of Belfast in support of LGBTQ rights. The Trade Union movement along with many others turned out to demonstrate their commitment to fight for equality in the workplace. Click here to see a short video of the day filmed for trade union TV by Paula Geraghty.

Second ITUC World Congress elects its first female General Secretary

Congress_300_enThe second International Trade Union Confederation Congress concluded in June with the election of Sharan Burrow as General Secretary of the ITUC. The Congress in Vancouver was attended by delegates from all over the world and also adopted resolutions on gender equality , migrant workers and on promoting and defending fundamental workers' rights. Congress was represented at the Conference by Treasurer, Joe O'Flynn.

UK Equality Act 2010 - TUC Briefing

The Equality Bill was published on 27 April 2009. A number of (mainly positive) amendments were made to the Equality Bill during its passage through Parliament. Some of the more controversial clauses (positive action, gender pay reporting and the socio-economic duty) had been at risk of being sacrificed in the final 'wash up' stage of the Parliamentary process, but remained on the face of the Bill when, on 8 April 2010, it received Royal Assent and entered the statute books as the Equality Act 2010. Full TUC briefing available here.

Information booklet on access to employment and education for migrant

AkiDwA has published its information booklet on access to employment and education for migrants. The booklet provides information with regard to the role of FÁS and the Local Employment Service, options for those dependent on social welfare who wish to move to employment, self employment, volunteering and employment rights. In relation to education it covers the National Framework of Qualifications, qualifications recognition and further and higher education. AkiDwA feels that the availability of this migrant-specific informational resource will help migrant women to assess their options in a more complete way and gain better access to suitable and meaningful employment and education in Ireland.

Cuts in public service jobs and wages - what does it mean for women?

"How do the EU-wide imposed austerity plans affect women?" This is the question EPSU has raised with several members of the European Commission in an open letter. If there are negative impacts EPSU wants to know what the Commission will do about them? On behalf of 8 million public service workers, 68% of whom are women, 7 questions are posed to EU Commissioners Reding, Andor and Rehn, charged with Fundamental Human Rights, including gender equality, Employment and Economic and Financial affairs respectively. EPSU's starting point is that EU-wide austerity measures, as a policy option to reduce public deficits, will, in addition to reducing jobs and growth, impact disproportionately on women who make up a large part of the public sector workforce.

Equality Authority Annual Report for 2009 Launched

The Equality Authority's Annual Report for 2009 was launched today (12th July 2010) at Dublin castle by Mr Pat Carey, TD, Minister for Community Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. To view the Annual Report, Press Release, Speaking Notes Minister Pat Carey TD, speaking notes Angela Kerins, Chairperson, Speaking Notes Renee Dempsey, Chief Executive Officer, click here.

Equality Authority and Newstalk's Global Village Radio Programme to collaborate.

dil and reneeEquality Authority CEO, Renee Dempsey and Dil Wickremasinghe, presenter of Newstalk's Global VillageGlobal Village on Newstalk 106-108 fm have announced that the Equality Authority will appear regularly on the programme addressing equality related issues and bringing Equality Authority case studies to listeners through a new regular feature on the programme.

Trade Unions welcome Civil Partnership

The Dáil has completed its work on the Civil Partnership Bill, which is expected to be signed into law in the autumn. Congress welcomes the passing of this historic legislation which will extend marriage-like benefits to gay and lesbian couples across a range of areas such as property, social welfare, succession, maintenance, pensions and tax. The civil partnership legislation does not represent full marriage equality however - a key omission is the fact that it does not provide any right for same-sex couples with children to be legally recognised as joint parents (read Obmudsman for Children, Emily Logan's opinion on this) . Congress will be producing guidance for lgbt workers and trade unions in the autumn. Kieran Rose, Chair of GLEN called it "a major civil rights reform and a great achievement for Irish society." The Bill is being finalised in the Seanad on 7th and 8th July

IMG_7635 INTOPride 2010Trade Union Banners on Dublin Pride 2010 (pic Paula Geraghty, NUJ)

Trade Unions Support 'People with Disabilities Say No More Cuts!' March

People with Disabilities Say No More Cuts March 7 July 2010People with Disabilities Say No More Cuts March 7 July 2010Inclusion Ireland today (7 July 2010) co-coordinated a national protest march under the banner 'People with Disabilities Say No More Cuts!'. SIPTU Comm sectorSIPTU Community sector members on Disability March IMPACT on Disability MarchIMPACT on Disability March

People with a disability and their families and supporters marched from the Garden of Remembrance down O'Connell Street, before assembling outside Leinster House. More info here

Make a commitment that the poor can't pay

The Poor Can't Pay is looking for a recognition that those on the lowest incomes in Irish society have already been asked to carry more than their fair share of the burden and their incomes should not be cut further. The Poor Can't Pay argues that the same commitment that the Government has offered to civil servants - no more income cuts through 2011 - can and must be made to those who depend upon the social welfare system. They are asking people to sign up to the following commitment: 'I make a personal commitment to do everything in my power to ensure families and individuals on the lowest incomes do not suffer from further income cuts' This campaign site is hosted by Focus Ireland, a member of The Poor Can't Pay Coalition. Why not add your voice?

EAPN Ireland Launches New Book: 'Ireland and the European Social Inclusion Strategy'

European Anti Poverty Network Ireland has launched a new book, 'Ireland and the European Social Inclusion Strategy: Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead'. The book reflects on the progress made in tackling poverty and social exclusion in Ireland while also acknowledging that even at the height of Ireland's economic success, there remained very significant problems for people at risk of poverty including access to services, low incomes and access to the labour market. The book is available to download from EAPN's website and includes a short piece by Congress General Secretary, David Begg and a section on Equality and anti-discrimination by Niall Crowley.

Work Life Balance Support Scheme

Congress would like to remind people about the above scheme run by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. The Work Life Balance Consultancy Scheme aims to assist in the development of a planned and systematic approach to work-life balance at enterprise level. Under this scheme, an experienced consultant can be made available to work with small to medium sized enterprises in developing and implementing work-life balance policies and arrangements.

Trade Union Memorandum to the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, July - December 2010

The Belgian Presidency will be confronted with a series of important challenges, especially with unemployment shooting up rapidly and a wave of austerity measures destroying economic recovery in a doubtful attempt to satisfy the markets. Read the ETUC recommendations to the Belgian Presidency, including sections on: Posting of workers; reconciliation of work, private and family life; Non-discrimination outside employment; migration and climate change.

Rational, informed debate about immigration and integration needed more than ever, despite recession: ICI

At a time when Ireland's economy is in dire straits, the rate at which people have been losing their jobs is the highest in the OECD and our unemployment rate is 3 per cent above the EU average, the need for informed, rational debate about immigration and integration has never been higher, Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) chief executive Denise Charlton said today (Monday June 28, 2010). The ICI is hosting a public lecture by the architect of the European Commission's Common Basic Principles of Integration, Professor Rinus Penninx, in Dublin tomorrow, on the theme of fostering integration and finding a model for social cohesion in Ireland.

Conference: 'Making Equality Count': Irish and International Approaches to Measuring Equality and Discrimination

This Research Conference, jointly organised by the Equality Authority, the Economic and Social Research Institute, the UCD Geary Institute and the Central Statistics Office was held in Dublin Castle on 23rd June. Presentations available here.

Maternity protection across the globe

Maternity protection has been a primary concern of the ILO since its creation, in 1919, when the first International Labour Conference adopted the first Maternity Protection Convention No. 3. A new publication on the state of maternity protection in the world ("Maternity at work") has just been released by the ILO. It sheds light on the progress made in the past 15 years in respect of the legal protection of key aspects of maternity protection at work. ILO Online spoke with Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO Conditions of Work and Employment Programme, about achievements made and persisting challenges for maternity protection, including the impact of the current economic and employment crises.

Groundbreaking victory in Supreme Court for Trans Gender Community.

Ms Lydia Foy has won her case in the Supreme Court this week when the Government dropped its challenge to a High Court declaration that Irish law on transgender rights is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Government must now introduce legislation recognising the new gender of transgender persons and allowing them to obtain new birth certificates or it will face condemnation from the European Court of Human Rights. Ms Foy was represented by FLAC, who have hailed the decision as "a major development for transgender people who have suffered from isolation, exclusion and prejudice for far too long". The Irish Human Rights Commission have also welcomed the decision. Read Carol Coulter article on how UK transgender law can point way for Government

Dublin LGBTQ Pride

This year's festival theme "We Are Family Too" will highlight the fact that LGBTQ families inhabit a legal limbo without recognition or protection from the State and with no legal rights or constitutional recognition. Browse the festival programme for many events that have been organized as part of this year's festival. This year's Pride parade is on Daturday 26th June and the Grand Marshall is Dr. Lydia Foy - see case report above.

Equality Authority challenges Bishops call for "License to discriminate"

License to discriminate would set dangerous precedent that could impact on rights and freedoms enjoyed by all of us (Thursday, June 17th). The Equality Authority has today said that allowing public servants to put personal religious beliefs before the requirements of civil law would set a dangerous precedent that could impact very seriously on a range of individual rights and freedoms enjoyed by people in Ireland today. The Authority was responding to the latest call from the Catholic Bishops that civil registrars should be allowed to ignore civil law - in the form of the Civil Partnership legislation - if their religious beliefs are opposed to same-sex partnerships.

ERA launch of 'It's About You' campaign.

ERA UThe Equality and Rights Alliance launches campaign aimed at highlighting the fact that equality and human rights concern everyone and to signpost to the development of the ERA Charter. Please take the time to visit the campaign web site where people are invited to be part of the campaign by uploading a photo and telling ERA what equality and human rights mean to you .

Tender to develop sectoral project to promote workplace equality

The Equality Mainstreaming Unit of the Equality Authority is seeking calls for proposals from national or regional organisations and/or sectoral representatives and associations who are interested in mainstreaming an equality perspective in their work and structures. The projects must be concluded by July 2011 and applications should be sent to the Authority to arrive no later than 5:00 pm on Friday 2nd July 2010. More details here

Ministerial Council on Integration - Announcement

Minister Mary White T.D., Minister of State for Equality, Integration and Human Rights today (2nd June) announced that she has commenced the process to establish a Ministerial Council on Integration. The Minister explained that expressions of interest from migrants are now being sought for appointment to the Council and the closing date is 7th July. More info here.

ERA petition to the European Parliament

The Equality and Rights Alliance presented a petition to the European Parliament yesterday (31st May) in Brussels. The debate was attended by Irish MEPs - Marian Harkin, Proinsias De Rossa and Joe Higgins who spoke from the floor to support the petition. For more info including video footage of whole debate, click here. Press coverage in Irish Times, 31st May and 1st June

Campaign for the Right to Change Employer

Right to changeSiobhan O Donoghue (MRCI) and Stellan Hermansson (ICTU) at Right to Change DemoThe Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland organised a public demonstration on Wednesday, 2 June 2010, at the Office of Minister Batt O'Keeffe, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin 2. If you could not attend the demonstration, you can phone or email Minister Batt O'Keeffe to tell him permit holders deserve the right to change employer: T: (01) 631 2172 / Email: [email protected]. The current employment permits system binds a worker to one employer. This is a leading factor in the exploitation of workers. Minister Batt O'Keeffe can change the lives of thousands with a simple administrative change. All workers, including those in the employment permits system, deserve the right to change employer. Click here for more information on the campaign and here for video footage by Paula Geraghty.

Irish Times Supplement- 40 years of Change in the Lives of irish Women

Sisters, a supplement in the Irish Times, 26th May 2010, with a range of articles charting changes in the lives of Irish Women. They include a roundtable discussion including Mary Robinson and Congress Vice President, Patricia King; and contributions from The Equality Illusion author, Kat Banyard; Mary Maher recalling early days; and Fintan O'Toole on why it has not just been women who have been liberated by the struggle for gender equality

saynotoageism2010Say No To Ageism Week 2010

This year's "Say No to Ageism Week" takes place from today, May 24th to 30th. It is a time to again consider the effects of ageism in our society and provides an opportunity to remind us of the consequences of ageism in service provision. More info

IMPACT Report estimates that up to 5,000 jobs to go in Community and Voluntary Sector

A report commissioned by the Boards & Voluntary Agencies branch of IMPACT trade union, which represents workers in the community and voluntary sector, has warned that the sector is facing crisis as state funding is cut. The report estimates that up to 5,000 jobs - almost 10% of the sector's workforce - will be lost while demand for services provided by the sector continues to climb as a direct result of the recession. It also says that voluntary organisations which are more critical of government policy are more vulnerable, as they are seen as an 'easy option to cut.'

"Empty Promises" launched by Eamon Gilmore

Empty PromisesThe leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., yesterday (13th May 2010) launched the new book, Empty Promises, by former CEO of the Equality Authority, Niall Crowley. The book outlines the history of the body and the events that led to his resignation in December 2008, and those of six members of the board. He describes various areas of tension between the authority and its sponsoring department, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform during his tenure, as well as looking at casework the Authority was involved in and various "champions" of equality within different organisations. In relation to case work, the book states: "In 2007, 69% of Equality Authority case files under the Equal Status Acts related to allegations of discrimination by people availing of public sector services." On the employment side, 49% of case files related to allegations of discrimination by employees of public sector bodies". ("Empty Promises" is published by A & A. Farmar, Ranelagh.) The book has attracted a lot of attention, including a discussion (Friday 14th May 2010, 37 minutes into the programme) on RTE Radio One's Today with Pat Kenny between Niall Crowley and commentator Ruth Dudley Edwards; Carol Coulter article in the Irish Times; a report on the launch by Lise Hand in the Irish Independent; a discussion (Thu 20 May) including Niall Crowley and Anne Speed (SIPTU) on Vincent Browne, TV3; and a book review in Irish Times (22 May) by Senator Ivana Bacik.

Equality for Women Measure 2010 - 2013: Call for Applications

Pobal, on behalf of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform / Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, is now inviting applications for funding under the European Social Fund supported Equality for Women Measure (EWM) 2010-2013. Funding of up to €50,000 per annum per project, for one or more years (subject to conditions), may be made available to suitably qualified organisations for clearly targeted projects which foster gender equality through the delivery of practical customised development supports. The individual strands of the Equality for Women Measure 2010-2013 are:

- Strand 1 - Access to Employment
- Strand 2 - Developing Female Entrepreneurship
- Strand 3 - Career Development for Women in Employment
The closing date for receipt of applications is Wednesday 16th June 2010 at 5pm. Full Details

UK introduce new Equality Act

The new Act received Royal Assent on 8 April 2010. The Equality Act 2010 introduces new measures to address economic inequality with the introduction of a positive duty on public sector bodies to address socio-economic inequalities.TUC Summary analysis here.

Equality bodies and national human rights institutions across the European Union are in need of additional support

The Fundamental Rights Agency of the EU held its first annual symposium on the institutional mechanisms to protect, promote and monitor fundamental rights in the EU in Vienna on 7 May 2010. Four new reports were also issued by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). They give evidence that data protection authorities, equality bodies and national human rights institutions across the European Union are in need of additional support. One of these reports is on the impact of the Racial Equality Directive - the views of trade unions and employers. The Irish report which fed into this report is available here.

More than half of migrant nurses working in Ireland say they have experienced bullying or discrimination in the workplace.

At the Annual Delegate Conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association, it was revealed that more than half of migrant nurses working in Ireland say they have experienced bullying or discrimination in the workplace. The study, carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, found 34 per cent reported being bullied by Irish nursing colleagues and 25 per cent reported bullying by nurse management. A further 5 per cent said they had been bullied by junior doctors or hospital consultants.

Equality in a Time of Crisis

This International Conference, organised and hosted by the Egalitarian World Initiative, mark the end of the EWI Marie Curie Transfer of Knowledge Programme and the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of the UCD Equality Studies Centre, and the 5th Anniversary of the establishment of the UCD School of Social Justice. In the wake of the recent economic downturn it was organised to inform the debate about equality in a time of crisis through profiling developments in research and practice by renowned scholars on egalitarian and social justice themes internationally.

Young migrants experience similar barriers to employment across Europe

More than two-fifths of young migrants who took part in survey held in five European countries felt they were employed in a job that did not reflect their qualifications.The survey was conducted in Italy, Ireland, Poland, Spain and the UK amongst migrants aged 18 to 30, as part of the EU-funded Pathways to Work project, for which the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) is the Irish partner.

New Migration Trends

New figures released by the Department of Social Protection reveal that the number of Poles registering to work or to apply for welfare services in the Republic fell by 40 per cent in the first quarter of the year. This downward trend in immigration is mirrored by nationals from other States, which have over the past six years supplied about half a million migrant workers to Ireland. Meanwhile, the number of Irish people emigrating to the US increased by 12 per cent last year and there was also a slight increase in the number of people from the Republic registering to live and work in Britain in 2009, according to immigration figures compiled by the US and British authorities. Some 18,400 Irish nationals emigrated in the year to April 2009 and CSO points out that of the total figure for the period, EU12 nationals were by far the largest group accounting for 30,100. The Economic and Social Research Institute predicts this trend will continue during 2010 and 2011, with a further 100,000 people leaving the country to travel or find a job.

Congress seeks meeting with Minister Mary White to seek equality for Teachers

Congress has written to Minister Mary White to once again seek amendment of Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act. The issue has recently come to light once again with the reports into child abuse in the Catholic Church and the excellent RTE TV series, Growing up Gay. It is also covered by Una Mullally in an excellent piece in the Sunday Tribune (April 25th 2010)

Domestic Workers Action Week - 26 April - 1 May 2010

The Domestic Workers Action Group of the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland celebrates May Day with a week of action to call for improved conditions and protections for workers employed in the private home.More info here. They are calling for government action to address the exploitation of domestic workers in Ireland, and to establish better employment rights and conditions. These include a campaign of inspections on private homes by the National Employment Rights Authority, as well as establishing protections for domestic workers employed by diplomatic staff. Congress will be uniting in solidarity with domestic workers around the world to support the adoption of an International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention to promote the rights of domestic workers at this year's International Labour Conference (ILC) in June.

ETUC Conference on promoting women within trade unions

On 11-12 March, the ETUC held a European Conference in Luxembourg involving trade union members, experts and politicians. This event was an opportunity for trade union organisations to share their experiences of promoting women within trade unions and to put forward policy recommendations on the work of the ETUC in this important area of action. Presentations available here

Equality Tribunal publishes Annual Report for 2009

Thursday 22nd April 2010: The Equality Tribunal today publishes its Annual Report for 2009. The Annual Report, launched by Minister of State - Mary White TD, shows that the Tribunal received over 900 claims, on a par with the previous year. The Tribunal's continued increases in productivity resulted in closing 840 cases during the year, in line with 2008. Speech by Director, Melanie Pine here. Among the headlines in report are:

- overall number of claims stable
- 12% increase in employment equality - now 85% of all claims
- 18% drop in equal status - 15% of all claims
- rise in referrals of claims of discriminatory dismissal
- majority of claims cover more than one issue of discrimination

Changes in Government Departmental Responsibilities

For the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the decision involves the transfer of responsibility for equality, disability, integration and human rights matters from the Department to the new Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. The Minister appointed to this new Department is Mr. Pat Carey, T.D., and the Minister of State is Ms Mary White, T.D. More here

Launch of See Change - the National Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership

Congress greatly welcomes the recent launch of See Change. The partnership is working positively to change attitudes and behaviour so that there is a reduction of stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems and to ensure that everyone enjoys the same rights on an equal basis.

Rally in memory of of Toyosi Shittabey

Congress condemns the recent senseless killing of Toyosi Shittabey (15) who was stabbed in an attack at Tyrrelstown, north-west Dublin on Good Friday (April 2nd 2010). A rally will take place in Dublin, Saturday 10th April at 14.00 in memory of Toyosi . It will be followed by a march to the Dail and has been called by the Toyosi Memorial Committee. Please spread the word and encourage friends, family and colleagues to come along.

Equality at the Teachers Unions Conferences

Equality featured as a topic at all of the Teacher Unions Conferences this week. The INTO passed a number of equality related motions, including:

  • one deploring the continued existence in Equality Law of an exemption related to religious schools and institutions as contained in Section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Acts and reiterating the INTO's demands for the deletion of Section 37(1) from the Employment Equality Acts;
  • One recognising the importance of supports for social inclusion measures in primary education and demanding that adequate staffing and resources are made available for the full implementation of the EPSEN Act;
  • And, one in relation to Visiting Teachers for Travellers Service, demanding that there will be no adverse impact on any aspect of conditions of service for any group of teachers;and that the VTST would be offered consultative representation within the new integrated services which will deliver parity and equal status for VTST with other stakeholders.

The TUI also debated a number of equality motions, including: the need for resources to adequately cater for the needs of non- Irish pupils; intercultural training for teachers; anti bullying policies on the grounds of sexual orientation; setting up of a lesbian, gay, bisexual network; amendment of Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act. marriage equality for lgb people; education rights for asylum seekers and expelling members who have been shown to be engaged in discriminatory practices against colleagues or students.

The ASTI also had lively equality related discussions, including on gender representation within the union.

Media coverage can be seen at:Gender discrimination; racial bullying

Parental Leave Directive in the Official Journal of the EC

The framework agreement on parental leave has been tranposed into a Directive and published in the Official Journal. The reference number of the Directive is 2010/18/EU. It will enter into force in 20 days. Deadline for implementation is 8 March 2012. The English version is available here. Congress will be organising a briefing on this and the forthcoming maternity Directive in the coming weeks. Contact David Joyce for more info.

Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Workplace Diversity Guide launched in Dublin 24th March 2010.

TCP_0220Davin Roche (GLEN); Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, TD; and David Joyce Congress at the launch of the workplace guideCongress welcomes the above publication by GLEN (supported by the employer's representative body IBEC, multinational IBM, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Business in the Community and the Equality Authority). The Guide published by GLEN (Gay and Lesbian Equality Network), is a practical toolkit for employers and trades unions in implementing cultural and diversity policies in the workplace for their Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employees. Read full Press Release. The guide was published on the day that the Committee stage of the Civil Partnership Bill commenced in the Oireachtas. The enactment will deliver urgently needed protections for lesbian and gay couples and has the full support of Congress as illustrated by the motion passed at our conference in July 2009

Congress participates in International Seminar on Trade Union Practices in Fighting Discrimination and Promoting Equality

Congress participated in the above seminar (22 March 2010) in Madrid, Spain, on Trade Union Practices in Fighting Discrimination and Promoting Equality.Noel and WilfNoel Ward, INTO, with Wilf Sullivan (TUC) and Erika Fuks (Socialisation and Vocational Training Centre - Lithuania)The meeting was organised by the Working Lives Research Institute (UK) and funded by the European Commission. It heard many examples of good trade union practice. WLRI also produced a concept paper for the event. Among the contributors were Catelene Passchier from the ETUC who outlined the trade union committment to equality and Noel Ward from the INTO gave a presentation about the INTO's work in the area of sexual orientnation and disability.More presentations available from David Joyce

Maternity and paternity leave: European Parliament to study the implications

An assessment of the likely impact of prolonging maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay and introducing two weeks' paternity leave EU-wide was requested by the European Parliament Women's Rights Committee co-ordinators meeting on Monday 15th March. The plenary session vote on the proposal has been postponed to 18 May 2010. "My political group asked that the vote be postponed to enable us to build a broader consensus in plenary. I have moreover received several requests from Member States expressing doubts, notably as to the costs of this directive. I therefore support this proposal", said rapporteur Edite Estrela (S&D, PT). The impact assessment study will look at social, environmental, economic and budgetary costs and benefits prolonging maternity leave on full pay and introducing two weeks' paid paternity leave. It will be commissioned by Parliament from an external company, and will take four to eight weeks to do. The plenary vote originally scheduled for 25 March 2010 in Brussels has been postponed to 18 May 2010 in Strasbourg.

Equality Authority seeks reform of Family Law to recognise the reality of modern family life in Ireland

The Equality Authority is seeking greater recognition of the diverse situations in which children are being parented in modern Ireland. "The best interests of children require that greater diversity of parenting arrangements be acknowledged in the framing of family law, so that the responsibilities of all those in a parenting role are appropriately recognised. The Authority emphasises that policies and laws must place the child at the centre of all matters relating to his or her welfare. This necessarily requires that full regard be paid to the particular circumstances of every child's life, ensuring that both policy and the law are sufficiently flexible and responsive to the needs of children in all family units", said the Chairperson of the Equality Authority, Angela Kerins (14th March 2010). Full press release and submission to Law Reform Commission.

European Week against Racism

The Minister for Integration, Mr. John Curran T.D., today (11 March) launched the European Week against Racism, The European Week Against Racism is a series of events, run by people and organisations actively opposed to racism in Irish society. It's co-ordinated by ENAR Ireland. On the eve of the week, the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) launched a pamphlet that critiques Ireland's political leadership on migration, and its commitment to equality in the current recession. the political pamphlet, Hidden Messages: Overt Agendas, was written by Niall Crowley, equality expert and former CEO of the Equality Authority. A critical respone to the publication has been put forward by the Minister for Integration, Mr. John Curran T.D., Read more

NDA Strategic Plan Launched

The National Disability Authority (NDA) (Wednesday 10 March 2010) launched its Strategic Plan for the period 2010 to 2012. The primary context for NDA's Strategic Plan is the continued implementation of the National Disability Strategy. The principle of including people with disabilities in the mainstream of Irish society, and ending the provision of segregated services, is at the core of this Strategy. Each and every government department and public body has the responsibility of including people with disabilities in its mainstream services and remit.

"Building Equality into Recovery" - Congress Womens Conference 5/6th March 2010

About 200 trade union delegates and guests attended the Congress Womens' Conference - Building Equality into Recovery, 5,6th March in Belfast. More information on the conference and other International Womens Day initiatives here.

INTO Equality Conference

The INTO Equality Conference 2010 will be held on Friday 5th and Saturday 6th March at the Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone. The theme of the conference is Fáilte - Inclusion in the Teaching Profession. Specifically, there will be a focus on including in teaching persons with a disability, those of different sexual orientations and those across the full range of marital status (single, married, widowed, separated, divorced, in a civil partnership). Inclusion related to disability, sexual orientation and marital/civil status will be covered in the keynote addresses and in workshops. Guest speakers include Senator David Norris, journalist and author Ms Susan McKay and 'Medmark' Director, Dr Robert Ryan. One topic to be examined at the conference is the changing nature of families.

54th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

More than 100 women representing trade unions from around the world will be demanding improved rights for working women at the 54th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which begins today (March 1st) in New York. Why not follow the blog where you can join the discussion, share your experiences as a working woman. Contribute your views on the successes achieved and challenges remaining 15 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted.

TASC Event between Fintan O'Toole and Mark Mortell

TASC Encounters Event with Fintan O'Toole on 24th February. Access a video of the evening by following this link here. This was only the first of what will be a regular series of TASC Encounters. Recent TASC event

ERA complaint to the EU Commission

ERA has been informed by the EU Commission that they will not be launching infringement proceedings on foot of the complaint submitted in September 2009. The Commission in its response expressed much regret at the cuts to the Equality Authority and noted that the Equality Authority had been held "in the greatest regard" by the Commission. The Commissions reason for not launching proceedings is based on the Directives being "minimum standard" Directives which do not stipulate a particular level of funding for equality bodies in member states. Meanwhile, the ERA petition to the European Parliament remains under consideration and has been deemed admissible by the Petitions Committee. Read more in latest ERA newsletter

Viviane Reding is Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

In the new Barroso's European Commission team Viviane Reding is Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship as well as Vice-President of the Commission. After the allocation of portfolios, the Equality between Men and Women, Action against Discrimination, Civil Society Directorate G of Directorate-general "Employment, social affairs and inclusion" remains within the same Directorate-General but is placed under the responsibility of Viviane Reding. European Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA); European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE); European Judicial Cooperation Unit (EUROJUST) as well as DG Communication (COMM) and Publications Office (OP) are also subordinate to Commissioner Reding.

Family Figures: Family dynamics and family types in Ireland, 1986-2006

ESRI Study Provides Detailed Account of Changes in the Structure of Ireland's Families, including:

-Nationality, ethnicity and religion are stronger influences on whether people cohabit or marry than socio-economic position, though people in the middle of the range for educational attainment are most likely to form partnerships.
-The number of people in same-sex couples is still very small in absolute terms (0.15% of 15-59 year-olds), but is rising rapidly. Most are in their 30s and 40s and have high educational attainment.

Women and Men in Ireland - 2009 CSO Report

Males are more likely to leave school early and females are more likely to have a third-level qualification. Women live longer than men, work fewer hours, earn less and are under-represented in local and regional authorities and in the Oireachtas according to the report Women and Men in Ireland 2009 published by the CSO today. The employment rate for men in Ireland stood at about 75% over the years, but in 2009 it fell sharply to 67.3%. The employment rate for women also fell in 2009, but to a far lesser extent. The EU target rate for women in employment is 60% by 2010, a target that was met by Ireland in 2007 and 2008, but not in 2009 when the employment rate for women fell to 57.8%. The unemployment rate for men in Ireland was about 5% in recent years but in 2009 it increased sharply to 15.1%. The unemployment rate for women, which stood at about 4% over the last few years, also increased in 2009 to stand at 8.1%. These large increases were reflected in all age groups, and in particular for those aged 15 to 19, with an unemployment rate of 40% for men aged 15 to 19 in 2009 and 32.3% for women. The report provides much cause for reflection and 200 delegates to the Congress Womens' Conference - Building Equality into Recovery, 5,6th March in Belfast - will discuss the report in detail.

National Disability Survey 2006 - Volume 2

This report (published by the CSO 28 Jan), presents the detailed analyses of the situation of people with a disability in Ireland in the following nine areas: Caring and help from other persons; Attitudes of other people; Transport; Built environment accessibility; Education; Work and training; Social participation; Sport and exercise; and some general issues such as use of medication, health and smoking.Key findings from the report include:

-Around 56% of persons with a disability in private households received help with their everyday activities. The most common source of help was from family members who lived with the person - 42% of persons in private households who had a disability received such help.
--Difficulty getting on and off public transport vehicles was given by 16% of persons aged 5 & over in private households as a reason for not using or having difficulty using public transport. Difficulty transferring from one service to another was the next most cited reason (12%), while difficulty getting to the public transport was reported by 9%.
-Around one third (32%) of respondents aged 5 & over whose disability limited or affected them before they completed their full-time education indicated that they had stopped their education sooner than they intended because of their disability.

EC annual report on equality between men and women

The European Commission annual report on equality between men and women 2010 was adopted on 18 December and will be presented to the Spring European Council in March 2010.

Childrens Rights Alliance Report Card 2010

Government has slipped to an overall D- grade in the Children's Rights Alliance Report Card 2010, published today (Monday 25 January), which grades Government on progress in its own commitments to children in the areas of Education, Health, Material Wellbeing and Safeguarding Childhood. Commenting on the report, Sally Anne Kinahan, Assistant Secretary General of ICTU, says: "I am absolutely delighted to have played a role in this excellent publication. It holds Government to account and really does make a difference to children's lives. Report Card 2010 offers Government a way forward and provides excellent recommendations that, if implemented, would put a halt to the deepening of a two-tiered society that ignores Ireland's most vulnerable children."

PSEU publishes results of survey of members on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transexual issues

The P.S.E.U. as part of the 2009 Congress equality challenge fund (supported by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of the European Commission). The survey was designed to collect data for the Union to identify issues of relevance for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) members and to inform what actions the Union might need to take to address any concerns these members might have.

Equality and Rights Alliance Conference highlights

Click here to see highlights of ERA conference held in November 2009. Also on Youtube

President McAleese address to opening session of the Fundamental Rights Agency Irish Roundtable event

"Human rights need a local and international architecture to ensure that they are expressed, developed, embedded and vindicated through institutions, structures and laws. Without that architecture they are merely lofty words".(3rd December 2009) Read more

CSO: Less than half of foreign nationals assigned PPSNs in 2004 had activity in Ireland in 2008

Of the total of 118,000 foreign nationals aged 15 and over who were assigned PPSNs (personal public service numbers) in 2004, only 48% had any
employment or social welfare activity at any time during 2008 . This emerges from an analysis of records of the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, and the CSO, based on foreign nationals who were allocated PPSNs during the period 2002-2008. Combined with the latest figures for Work Permits issued in 2009, showing that the number of people from outside the EU working in the Republic fell 41 per cent during 2009 as the recession took hold, both releases have lead to some debate. The office of the Ministe for Integration rejects a call for collating data from people exiting the country in response to Denise Charlton of the Immigrant Council who said the figures highlight the need for the Government to more accurately collect immigration-related data. See analysis in Irish Times

EC: Gender Equality Part of is part of the solution to exit the crisis - new report (18 Dec 2009)

Both women and men have been hit by job losses in the downturn, says a new report adopted by the European Commission on 18 December 2009. However, women face a higher risk of not being re-employed and continue to be in a generally weaker position in the labour market. Beyond the current crisis, the Commission's report to the Spring European Council on equality between women and men underlines the persisting challenges for gender equality in Europe and calls for a stronger gender dimension as part of the EU's future strategy for growth and jobs. Ths follows the Council Conclusions on Gender equality: strengthening growth and employment -
input to the post-2010 Lisbon Strategy, agreed on 30 November 2009.

Trade Unions make case for Rights and Equality on UN Day for Human Rights

David Begg, speaking at an event organised to mark the UN Day for Human Rights at the INTO this evening again made the case for equality and rights to be a key part of any national recovery programme. Read more.. The theme for this year's day is "The concept of non-discrimination lies at the heart of human rights".Trade Unions around the world continue to risk their lives while trying to protect workers, as is evidenced by most recent reports that the ITUC has published about Guatemala

Meanwhile, read Irish Times report of Seamus Heaney's presentation to the annual Human Rights Commission lecture last night in which he compares human rights activists to poets.

Congress Welcomes progress of the Civil Partnership Bill

Today (3rd December 2009) the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform will present the Civil Partnership Bill to the Dáil as part of the second stage of progressing the Bill through the Oireachtas. While not the full equality option of civil marriage, the Bill has the potential to resolve many immediate and pressing issues faced by lesbian and gay people - including workplace issues including pensions, taxation, social welfare and immigration. Congress and others have also been critical of the critical omission in the Bill of the lack of legal support and recognition of the many children being parented by same-sex couples and strongly urges the Government to address this critical gap as the Bill is advanced through the Oireachtas. Congress is completely opposed to any so called "conscientious objection" amendment to the Bill. See GLEN commentary and Equality Authority release

Congress has previously issued a submission to the Government's Working Group on Domestic Partnership (the Colley Group) that access to civil marriage would achieve equality of status with opposite sex couples and passed a motion on this topic at its BDC in July 2009

International Day of Persons with Disabilities - 3 December 2009

Today marks the UN Day of Persons with Disability. The theme of this year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities is "making
the Millennium Development Goals disability-inclusive." Here in Ireland as we approach the budget, Congress again calls on the Government to live up to its stated committment to protect and prioritise the needs of people with disabilities in these difficult times. Congress supports disbility organisations such as Inclusion Ireland who now say "PROVE IT. Don't cut people with a disability in next week's budget, and stop pushing important issues like inspection of disability services onto the backburner." See also example from ILO Subregional Coordinator on Disability for East Asia, which looks at a Vietnamese woman whose work in this area has received international recognition.

Report from EU Equality Summit, Stockholm, 16,17 November 2009

Click here to read the Commission's report on the Equality Summit held recently in Stockholm.And a report on the workshop on trade union and NGO cooperation

Recovering Together, Total Reform of Taxation, Spending and Governance - A Gender Perspective

Congress Women's Committee are delighted to submit this Pre Budget Submission 2010 which should be read in conjunction with the ICTU Pre Budget Submission. Our Submission advocates that any decision regarding Budget 2010 must be taken in a manner which is sensitive to its differential impact on women and men and must be examined from a gender perspective.

Congress launches Violence against Women Workplace Guidelines

On the occasion of the UN International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November), Congress has launched a revised set of guidelines for trade unions in order to assist women at work who are experiencing domestic violence. Joint Chair of the Congress Womens Committee, Clare Tracy stated: "The workplace can play a key role on raising awareness about domestic abuse. We know for many women work is a place of safety where they may confide in others about their experiences and where they can access help" Congress and its affiliates have been campaigning over the last few years to ensure that domestic abuse is seen as an issue that unions can - and - should be doing something about for women who are affected by violence at home. Joint Chair of the Womens Committee, Taryn Trainor added: "work too is likely to suffer unless women get the support they need. Congress urges employers to cooperate with unions in developing a common approach to domestic abuse in the workplace." It is intended that this Guide be used in a practical way to give information, ideas and contacts to union representatives in the workplace and to enable them to give consistent and effective assistance to those suffering domestic abuse. Please visit Womens Aid site for more information on the 16 day campaign, Breaking the Silence around domestic violence.

The guidelines are one of many trade union initiatives around the world to say "no to violence against women and girls" and to mobilize against the impunity of that violence around the world. These activities are taking place in the context of the UN Secretary-General's campaign 'UNiTE to End Violence against Women' and the Global Unions Campaign 'Decent Work, Decent Life for Women'. "Violence against women at work is a serious problem, just as it is in society generally. Trade unions are campaigning on both fronts, to get rid of it in the workplace and in the community," said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder, "Inequality and pervasive discrimination against women and girls are at the core of the problem, providing an environment where violence is tolerated or even encouraged." Read more about ITUC initiatives. UNI have a particulalry interesting site.

ICTU and TASC launch report on income inequality

Congress and the equality think-tank TASC today (18 Nov 2009) launched the Hierarchy of Earnings, Attributes and Privilege (H.E.A.P.) report, designed to present the facts about income inequality in Ireland in an accessible form. The report - which was authored by NUIG academics Professor Terrence McDonough and Jason Loughrey - comprises a poster illustrating the numbers of households at different income levels, broken down by occupational category and household type, together with an explanatory booklet. Read full press release and Full explanatory booklet available here

Carers of the Year Awards 2009

Congratulations to Irelands Carers of the Year for 2009 - Paddy & Anne Peppard. Paddy & Anne Peppard from Trim, Co. Meath were announced Irelands Carers of the Year 2009 at an awards ceremony in the Westbury Hotel on Wednesday 18th November. The Peppards are also celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this week.
For more information about the awards and the Carers association, click here.

News from EU Equality Summit

Joint Declaration

In view of the forthcoming (16/17November 2009) Equality Summit, organised by the EU Swedish Presidency in Stockholm, the ETUC have prepared a common Declaration together with the European Social Platform. This Declaration is one of the results of the discussions between the ETUC and its members on the occasion of an EC Conference held last June in Budapest, focusing on the role of trade unions and non-governmental organisations in combating discrimination.

Catelene Passchier, Confederal Secretary, ETUC, said: "The fight for equality in Europe requires new legal and policy initiatives from the EU institutions and Member States, as well as greater commitment to ensure equality in practice. This cannot be achieved without a greater involvement of social partners and especially trade unions and organised civil society."
Myria Vassiliadou, Vice-President, Social Platform, added: "If we want equality in Europe to become a reality, the EU institutions and the Swedish and upcoming EU Presidencies must strongly commit themselves to following up on this declaration."

A Thematic publication on the role of NGOs and trade unions in combating discrimination will be fed into the debates of the 3rd Equality Summit . The Equality Summit is an important opportunity to make the voice of organised civil society heard by representatives of governments and EU institutions as well as to reaffirm trade union commitment in this policy field. ETUC believes that there is a need for more equality in Europe, through new legal and policy initiatives from the EU Institutions and Member States as well as a deeper commitment to ensuring equality in practice.

Eurobarometer survey: perceptions of discrimination

The Summit has also see the release of the third Special Eurobarometer survey carried out by the European Commission on attitudes to discrimination in the EU. It aims to track perceptions of people in Europe towards different forms of discrimination and diversity. The first survey was conducted ahead of the 2007 European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, and the second in early 2008. This latest survey was carried out between 29 May and 15 June 2009, with a sample of 26,756 people interviewed in 30 countries. This time new questions were added, notably to gauge the impact of the economic downturn on the level of perceived discrimination. In addition and for the first time, the survey also covered the three Candidate Countries: Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Turkey.

Which forms of discrimination are considered most common?

Discrimination on ethnic grounds (61%) is seen to be the most widespread form of discrimination in the EU, followed by discrimination based on age (58%) and disability (53%). While perceptions of ethnic discrimination remain stable (62% in 2008), there has been a significant increase since the 2008 survey in the number of people who consider that discrimination based on age (+16 percentage points since 2008) and disability (+8) are the most widespread. On the other hand, there have been falls for the perception of discrimination based on sexual orientation (-4) and religion (-3).

Read the results of the survey for Republic of Ireland here Among the findings: almost half the Irish (in a lower proportion than the European average) say they do not know their rights if they were the subject of discrimination or harassment. The 25-39 year olds are more aware of their rights whilst the less educated seem to suffer from a certain lack of knowledge.

New Research Investigates Changes in Women's Participation in the Irish Labour Market 1998-2007

The Equality Authority and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) today (Friday 13 November) published a report entitled A Woman's Place: Female Participation in the Irish Labour Market. Between 1998 and 2007 almost 300,000 women joined the Irish labour market. In 2007, two out of three women were active in the labour market. Renee Dempsey, CEO of the Equality Authority, said: "This research demonstrates that we are still some way from achieving gender equality in the labour market. Full press release here.

Listening to the Voices of the LGBT Community

The National Lesbian and Gay Federation (NLGF) has launched (12th November, 2009) a new research report, Burning Issues: Listening to the Voices of the LGBT Community. The Burning Issues study, supported by SIPTU and the Equality Authority, is the first research report to provide a comprehensive overview of the attitudes and opinions of the LGBT community in Ireland on the key issues of vital importance to them. The research reveals that equality in the workplace is the top concern of LGBT people in Ireland.

Marriage Matters for Lesbian and Gay People in Ireland, Symposium Proceedings

The NLGF has also published the report of the proceedings of the symposium Marriage Matters for Lesbian and Gay People in Ireland that was held on 7th May 2009 in Dublin. The symposium contributed to the creation of a strong platform across civil society for the achievement of civil marriage rights for LGBT people in Ireland. One of the key actions arising from the symposium was that LGBT organisations should strengthen their alliance with trade unions in their campaign for civil marriage rights and equality in the workplace.

Congress Womens Committee Meeting with President McAleese "a celebration of 50 years of Struggle and Achievement"

Aras Patricia Clare and TarynCongress Past President, Patricia McKeown; President McAleese; Clare Tracy and Taryn Traynor, Joint Chairs of Congress Womens' Committee (pic: Tommy Clancy)Congress Womens Committee today (November 4) met with President McAleese on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. The meeting took place at Aras an Uachtaran, at the invite of President McAleese. Current and former members of the Congress Joint Women's Committee were in attendance. Speaking in advance, Patricia McKeown, a former president of Congress said: "We are delighted that President McAleese has invited us to celebrate with her 50 years of struggle and achievement, on the part of the members of the Women's Committee, past and present." Full press release

Aras groupMembers of the Womens Committee of Congress with President Mary McAleese (Pic: Tommy Clancy)

Portmarnock wins "men only case"

The Supreme Court today (3rd October 2009) dismissed the Equality Authority's appeal against a decision Portmarnock Golf Club is not a "discriminating" club under the Equal Status Act. Commenting on the decision, the Authority "welcomed this decision and is pleased that we now have a definitive interpretation of this particular provision of the Equal Status Act". They went on to add that the "judgement is not as we would have wished, it is a matter for the Oireachtas to consider whether it should amend the Equal Status Act now". Full Authority briefing available. Congress is very disappointed in the decision which it feels is not in keeping with the spirit of the legislation and urges the Oireachtas to amend the Equal Status Act so that such an interpretation is not possible in the future.

Working dads want more time with their children/ Work in home leaves women worse off

Many British fathers are working long hours, struggling to balance work and family and fear that requesting flexible working will damage their careers, a new report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found. Meanwhile, a new National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) publication entitled 'Who Cares? Challenging the Myths about Gender and Care in Ireland', collates statistics from national and EU official sources which demonstrate the unfair burden of domestic work on women. The statistics show the excessive burden of care duties damages women's health, affects their employment, reduces their leisure time in comparison to men and affects their pension entitlements. Indeed, women who are excluded from the workforce because of their care duties are also excluded from the social insurance system and consequently have much lower pension entitlements

Get Up Stand Up for a Better Fairer Way

Get Up Stand Up CONG009_logoCongress today (21st October) launched our new campaign - get up stand up for a better fairer way. The campaign aims to bring about change in how Government responds to the crisis we face. The campaign document includes the following on equality: "Any process of national recovery should not be achieved at the expense of dismantling hard-won protections for the vulnerable and weakest in our society. Any Plan for National Recovery should include a strong, effective, independent and adequately resourced equality and human-rights infrastructure so that we can emerge from this crisis with a better, fairer society that respects and protects the dignity of all its members". Get involved by signing up on the Get Up Stand Up website.

Launch of 10th anniversary of the introduction of the Employment Equality Act

The Equality Authority, the Equality Tribunal and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, have jointly launched a series of initiatives to mark the 10th anniversary of the introduction of new Irish equality legislation in employment and goods and services in Dublin Castle. As part of the initiatives, the Equality Tribunal have published a CD-ROM of all its Decisions, and it's Legal Reviews, since its establishment a decade ago. An opinion piece by former CEO of the Equality Authority, Niall Crowley, was also carried in the Irish Times.

Anti Racist Workplace Week - Northern Ireland

Monday (19th October) sees the launch of Anti-Racist Workplace Week. Thousands of companies across Northern Ireland have been encouraged to take part in the campaign which runs from 19-23 October. The week is coordinated by the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland and will be launched at Translinks Central Station, Belfast, at 10am on Monday 19 October. Among the events organised are an Irish Congress of Trade Unions event including a range of speakers in the Newry Canal Hotel on 19 October and a roundtable meeting with ETUC General Secretary John Monks, local trade unionists and politicians at the Europa Hotel on 22 October. More details. Congress presentations at the event: Peter Bunting, Assistant General Secretary intro; David Joyce, Equality Officer presentationt.

Joint ETUC European Social Platform Declaration on Equality

In view of the forthcoming Equality Summit, organised by the EU Swedish Presidency in mid-November in Stockholm the ETUC have prepared a common Declaration together with the European Social Platform. This Declaration is one of the results of the discussions between the ETUC and its members on the occasion of an EC Conference held last June in Budapest, focusing on the role of trade unions and non-governmental organisations in combating discrimination. The Equality Summit is an important opportunity to make the voice of organised civil society heard by representatives of governments and EU institutions as well as to reaffirm trade union commitment in this policy field. ETUC believes that there is a need for more equality in Europe, through new legal and policy initiatives from the EU Institutions and Member States as well as a deeper commitment to ensuring equality in practice.

INTO "Anseo" Conference on LGB issues for Primary Teachers

Anseo PicSheila Crowley, (INTO LGB Group Chair), Niall Crowley and Colm Tóibín at the Anseo Conference (pic Moya Nolan)A number of speakers, including INTO General Secretary John Carr, described the conference organised by the INTO LGB (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual) Teachers' Group as a historic occasion. The event took place in Dublin on Saturday, 10 October. John Carr stated that the conference emphasised that LGB teachers have found a voice as well as a rightful place through INTO, and that work needed to be done to end the sense of false duality felt by LGB teachers between their private and professional lives. Over 100 teachers attended from many parts of Ireland, North and South, to explore themes of inclusion, diversity and visibility. There was a particular emphasis on inclusive staffrooms, with the launch of Guidelines. See report of conference.

Guidance for School Principals on LGB Issues Launched

Minister Seán Haughey TD today launched the first comprehensive guidance for schools on sexual orientation issues which is backed by all the Education Partners, including the ASTI and the TUI. The Guidance was produced by the Department of Education and GLEN and will support schools in tackling homophobic bullying and in providing a safe and supportive environment for lesbian, gay and bisexual students. Read Press release

Disability Champions Graduation

Disability Champions GraduatesCongrats to all the graduates October 09Over 60 trade unionists from across the whole island of Ireland gathered in Belfast (1/2 October 2009) to celebrate the work of the now 100 Disability Champions on the island. The graduation ceremony tonight will be presided over by Patricia McKeown (Past President of ICTU) and 13 of the latest champions will graduate. For more details and to view some of the presentations at the seminar, please visit the disability section of the website.

1st World Women's Conference of the ITUC, Brussels, 19-21 October 2009

The Discussion Guide for the above mentioned Conference is now available on the ITUC web site . This Discussion Guide focusses on the issues dealt with under each theme and provides information and links to resources.

National Positive Ageing Week

Positive Ageing is the term chosen to encapsulate efforts to make Ireland the best place in which to grow old. It means a society in which people of all ages enjoy the same status and rights. Positive Ageing Week is a festival which highlights the positive aspects of ageing and celebrates the contribution older people have made and continue to make to their communities. The central aim of Positive Ageing Week is to dispel the many negative perceptions that surround ageing and to transform attitudes towards ageing and older people. It is organised by Age Action Ireland. The Minister for Older People and Health Promotion, MsAine Brady TD, is developing a new National Positive Ageing Strategy. Read the Congress submission to the strategy.

Equality Authority Annual Report for 2008 launched

The Equality Authority Annual Report for 2008 iwas launched today (Thursday 24th September) by John Moloney T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health. ,Age cases in employment and disability cases in equal status continue to dominate equality concerns - Read more

A study of Employment Equality Decisions

An analysis of 431 decisions of the Equality Tribunal by the University of Limerick identifies, for the first time, some features of claimants who have taken cases under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2004. Here is a summary of the main findings, including: gender was the most cited ground in claims (38% of all grounds cited); and Trade unions were the most common form of representative for claimants.

Congress welcomes New Work Scheme for Foreign Nationals

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Dermot Ahern T.D., has announced that the Government has approved a Scheme for foreign nationals who have become undocumented through no fault of their own after previously holding a work permit. The Government's intention to introduce a scheme for this category of migrants had been negotiated by Congress in the "Towards 2016, Review and Transitional Agreement 2008-2009". See joint Congress MRCI statement welcoming the scheme.

Recession traps women in abusive relationships

Women's Aid today (Wednesday, 16th September 2009) announced details of calls to its Domestic Violence National Freephone Helpline and its Support Services in 2008. Many callers disclosed that they are trapped in abusive relationships and are more vulnerable to abuse due to the recession. Callers to the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline disclosed over 15,000 incidents of physical,emotional, sexual and financial abuse in 2008. Many women reported they were experiencing domestic violence before the recession but that the economic downturn was leading to more frequent abuse and more dangerous abuse. In particular, women disclosed that abusive men were using the recession to excuse their behaviour. See Congress guidelines on domestic violence and the workplace.

New Book on the United Nations Disability Treaty

President McAleese was presented with a copy of the first academic book on the new UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The book was co-edited by Professor Oddny Arnardottir of Reykjavik University in Iceland and Professor Gerard Quinn of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway. See full press release

New report on Gender Pay Gap

The ESRI and the Equality Authority have published a new report on the gender pay gap. "The Gender Wage Gap in Ireland: Evidence from the National Employment Survey 2003", uses data with vital and unique information on both employee and employer characteristics to assess the size and nature of the gender pay gap in Ireland. Key findings include: - The observed or "raw" gap between men's and women's hourly wages was about 22 per cent for all employees. About two-thirds of the observed gap was due to differences in observable characteristics between men and women, such as different levels of education and labour market experience, job and firm characteristics, etc. When account is taken of such factors, the remaining adjusted (or unexplained) wage gap was close to 8 per cent. The gender pay gap was among the issues addressed in the Congress Equality Briefing published in July 2009.

New INIS & DETE Guidelines Regarding Changes to nonEEA Workers (1 Sep 2009)

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) has issued some initial guidelines regarding the recent changes for nonEEA workers. The changes:

-double the length of time, from three to six months that a migrant worker has to seek alternative employment and get a new work permit (This applies to those with less than five years in the work permit system.)
-non-EEA migrant workers who have held permit for five years or more will be granted a new permission to live and work without the need to apply for another work permit. See Migrant Rights Centre, Ireland (MRCI) on the changes

Congress supports Complaint to Europe on Equality Cutbacks

Congress has written a letter of support to the European Commission regarding an Equality and Rights Alliance complaint in relation to the cutbacks to our equality infrastructure.

New Equality Authority Ezine

Click here to read the new quarterly ezine from the Equality Authority

Equality Tribunal publishes Annual Report, Legal and Mediation Reviews for 2008

Tuesday 25th August 2009 : The Equality Tribunal today published its Annual Report, Legal and Mediation Reviews for 2008. The Annual Report shows that the Tribunal received a record number of claims, up 21% on the previous year. The rise was particularly striking for employment equality. The Tribunal's continued increases in productivity resulted in closing 858 cases during the year, up over 40% on the previous year.

The Director of the Equality Tribunal, Ms Melanie Pine, confirmed that the number of cases being brought to the Tribunal was a record high and commented on recent changes in the nature of cases referred to the Tribunal:

"Since it was set up 10 years ago the Tribunal has dealt with claims from over 23,000 people, covering all aspects of daily life. It is an exciting time for equality issues. The level of employment claims has grown steadily over recent years accounting for over 80% of claims coming to the Tribunal in 2008. There is also a change in the type of cases being referred. Conversely the number of claims of discrimination in relation to goods and services has fallen to its lowest ever annual level. This relative speed of change in equality issues, means that the Tribunal has had to be alert to our changing customers' needs. It also suggests that we cannot predict what equality case law will look like in five or ten years time." Read more here and see media coverage

Civil Partnership Debate

Cardinal Brady criticised Civil Partnerships in a homily in Limerick on Saturday (22 Aug). He said that Civil Partnerships would undermine the institution of marriage and the family by making civil partnerships "equal in status to marriage". The Cardinal calls "an alarming attack on the fundamental principle of freedom of religion and conscience" the provision in the Bill that makes it an offence for any Civil Registrar to refuse to conduct a civil partnership, and calls on legislators to vote on the Bill according to their Christian conscience.

GLEN responded by saying that there was a democratic consensus for civil partnerships.which followed from extensive national dialogue and consultation and which has extensive public and political support. GLEN emphasised that legal recognition of same-sex couples was part of every political party's manifesto in the last general election and is part of the Programme for Government. Successive opinion polls over the last five years demonstrate that there is overwhelming public support for legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Also, Sinead's Hand is a short film that draws attention to the important issue of civil marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Gender Pay Gap

Recent publication of the the opinion on the gender pay gap of the Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, to which the ETUC contributed.

Congress makes the case to Government for Gender Equality in times of recession

Congress has sent a letter to Minister John Moloney TD, Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, to protest against the apparent abandonment of the National Womens Strategy (NWS) and to make the case for gender equality to be a core component of any national recovery plan. The 2007/2008 Progress Report of the NWS gives an overview of progress made in implementing the Objectives contained in the National Women's Strategy, since its launch in April 2007 to the end of 2008.

Congress submission to DETE Sectoral Plan Review under the Disability Act 2005

Congress has written (July 09) to the DETE to seek the elaboration of the promised comprehensive employment strategy for people with disability in their sectoral plan review under the Disability Act 2005. Read submission

Issues and challenges in recruitment and selection of migrant workers

New research entitled "Issues and Challenges in the Recruitment and Selection of Immigrant Workers in Ireland" has been published by the Public Appointments Service. The report takes into account the experiences of job seekers from a range of minority ethnic groups, examines their experiences of seeking employment in Ireland and identifies particular challenges/barriers that they have encountered, including a lack of information in relation to the job search process, a perceived preference amongst employers for Irish experience and references and difficulties in demonstrating equivalence of qualifications. The report also highlighted the different views that immigrant job seekers and employers often had in relation to the selection process and the extent to which it was open and fair. The report has been welcomed by the Office of the Minister for Integration

Immigration and Integration in times of recession - Immigrant Council of Ireland

Ireland must address exclusionary and isolationist rhetoric on who "belongs" here, or risk long-term damage to society and the economy, Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) chairman John Cunningham said today (30 July 2009). Mr Cunningham was chairing an ICI lunch meeting with Peter Sutherland, the UN Secretary General's special representative on international migration and development, business leaders, diplomats and others in Dublin today. Papers from the event are available.

Pride Marches

the 19th annual Belfast Pride Festival comprises a week long programme of events ranging from lectures, exhibitions and performing arts based around the Black Box on Hill Street. The festival culminates on Pride Day, Saturday 1st August, with a carnival parade through Belfast city centre followed by Ireland's largest free LGBT party at Custom House Square. All Congress affiliates, families and friends are invited to attend.Meanwhile, LGBT Noise have informed us that they are having an event - "come march with our friends in LGBT Noise on Sunday the 9th of August in Dublin. Gathering at 1.30pm beside Dublin City Hall (Dame St.). Please bring as many of your friends and family members as you can as we want this to be the biggest march yet."

Equal Rights for Agency Workers update

Congress is organising a Briefing Session (29 July 2009) on the Employment Agency Regulation Bill 2009. The purpose of the session is for the Department of Enterprise Trade & Employment to outline legislative provisions in advance of Congress making our response which will be prepared during July and finalised by the Congress Negotiation Team in September. Meanwhile, the TUC have launched the results of a new survey of agency workers which shows that it is not just low paid and unskilled agency workers who face discrimination and poor treatment at work. With the recession and growing unemployment forcing more and more people to accept temporary work, there is strong demand from agency workers for better rights and complaints of bad treatment right across the skill and income spectrum.

National Disability Authority on Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditures and Disability

The National Disability Authority is concerned at the suggestion by the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditures that responsibility for disability policy would revert to the Department of Health and Children rather than remain as a core element of the Equality remit of the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform. Full press release

Equality and Rights Alliance on the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditures equality related recommendations

Recommendations within the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes will underpin, and in many cases worsen inequality, according to Equality & Rights Alliance (ERA), a coalition of over 80 organisations working to protect equality and human rights.

Equality at the Congress Biennial Delegate Conference

Equality was a major topic of debate at our recent BDC in Tralee 7 - 10 July. A range of equality related motions were debated including 2 general motions; pay gap; quality of life of older people; Womens right to choose; rights of people with disabilities; and equal opportunities for same sex couples. The conference also saw the launch of a policy paper on workplace equality. Brief report on equality debate.

Achieving Economic Equality in Ireland - a Public Policy Imperative

Presentation by Paula Clancy (Director, TASC) for ICTU Biennial Delegate Conference, July 9th 2009. The TASC/ICTU Income Inequality Poster Project will graphically illustrate who gets how much

TCD Migration initiative - MCA Newsletter No. 2:

After the Boom: Migration and the Irish Construction Sector - read more

Public Attitudes towards economic inequality

An exploration of the underlying 'drivers' of public attitudes towards economic inequality and welfare policy. This study by Louise Bamfield and Tim Horton aims to fill some of the gaps in existing research to provide useful insights for practitioners and policy-makers.

TUC warns spread of far right across Europe could increase gay hate crimes

In a speech to the 12th annual TUC LGBT conference 2nd July, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber celebrated recent advances in lesbian and gay equality but warned there's still a long way to go before social attitudes catch up with changes in the law.

Trade Unions unite against Racism in Belfast

The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is hosting a major rally Thursday 2nd July to protest at the recent series of racist attacks aimed at migrant workers from Romania, Poland and India.

Ombudsman report and complaints under the Disability Act 2005

With just six complaints received under the Disability Act, 2005 in 2008, the Ombudsman has expressed concern about the level of information available to people with disabilities about their rights. "If people with disabilities don't have information easily available to let them know how to make a complaint against a public body, then it is no surprise that complaints from them to me remain remarkably low, year on year " said Ombudsman O'Reilly.

Civil Partnership Bill Published

Congress welcomed the publication of the Civil Partnership Bill on June 25th. While noting it is as a major step forward, the full equality option of civil marriage will be debated at our biennial delegate conference in Tralee next week. There, delegates will debate a motion on the issue put forward by the NUJ and the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers with an amendment proposed by the INO.

Number of non-Irish nationals in the labour force declines by almost 30,000

According to (page 4) the latest quarterly national household survey, there were an estimated 462,300 non-Irish nationals aged 15 years and over in the State in the first quarter of 2009, a decrease of 20,800 or 4.3%.This compares with an increase of 55,200 or 12.9% in the first quarter of 2008. The estimated number of non-Irish nationals in the labour force was 336,400, a decrease of 29,700 over the year. An increase of 38,000 had been recorded in the year to Q12008. The ESRI has now warned that the "vastly changed" economic situation may impact on the attitude of Irish nationals to immigrants, giving rise to fears that they may be subjected to racist abuse such as that experienced by the Romanian community in the North last week. Read more about the labour market and recession

Revised Framework Agreement on parental leave agreed by EU social partners

The European Social Partners have agreed a revised framework agreement on parental leave. The main changes are an increase from 3 to 4 months, the extra month being non-transferable between parents; and the right to request flexible working arrangements upon return from leave. The Commission will now submit a proposal to the Council for implementation of the agreement by a directive. All matters regarding income in relation to this agreement are for consideration and determination by Member States and/or social partners according to national law, collective agreements and/or practice.

New website of the Office of the Minister for Integration

Minister John Curran, T.D., today (June 25th) launched the website of the Office of the Minister for Integration. The website will highlight the work of the Office and inform migrants and interested stakeholders of developments in integration and diversity management taking place at a national and international level. It will also provide information on European and national funding streams managed by the Office, provide links to relevant national and international websites and be a key source of information for migrants.The launch coincides with the recent launch of the European Web Site on Integration by the European Commission. This website has a documentary library, "best practice" content, country information on integration of Third Country Nationals from across Europe, and will build an on line community of integration practitioners.

New CEO for the Equality Authority

Ms Renee Dempsey has been appointed as the new CEO of the Equality Authority. Ms Dempsey has been head of the Disability Equality Unit in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform since July 2008

Northern Ireland Attitudes Survey

You don't get to choose your neighbours or in-laws but if you could, who might they be and, more to the point who would be excluded? The Equality Commission has launched new research which shows a notable rise in Northern Ireland of negative views towards a range of people as neighbours, work colleagues and family members.

Congress welcomes commitment to re-examine exemption for Churches in Equality legislation

Responding to Senator David Norris and Senator Joe O'Toole in a recent Seanad debate about the Ryan Report, Minister of State for Equality John Moloney made the following statement: "I wish to respond to Senator Norris, this time wearing my hat of Minister of State with responsibility for equality issues. I do not say this by way of pretence just to get through the door. I give him a serious commitment to re-examine the exemption clause, especially in light of what has occurred in recent days. I will not hide behind legal jargon. I intend to test the issue of why the advice was followed. For the sake of the record of the House, I do not for a second believe Senator Norris is anti-Catholic. In fact, I think the opposite."

Shaping our Future

On 19th June, 2009, the Community Platform and Is Feidir Linn organised a conference entitled Shaping our Future. The purpose of the conference was to consult widely on a manifesto - A vision for an inclusive, equal, sustainable Ireland. Congress Vice President Jack O'Connor addressed the conference and there was good trade union participation at the event. Jack spoke of the huge challenge in getting the manifesto well known and discussed and suggested an addition on the right to collective bargaining. Feedback to the organisers on the manifesto is invited. Full conference report now availalble.

Congress President at Anti Racism Rally in Belfast

Patricia McKeown, Congress President addressed an anti racism rally in Belfast on Saturday 20th June. Read more. And for NICICTU statement. The rally was organised to call for a structured response from politicians, government agencies and local and migrant community representatives to the racist attacks which have left 115 Romanian migrant workers and their families distressed and homeless.

ETUC calls on EU Member States to ensure full protection of Refugees

On the occasion of 20 June, International Refugee Day, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) calls on the European Union to make good its promise to ensure the full and inclusive protection of refugees in accordance with international human rights obligations and its own Charter of Fundamental Rights. ETUC is committed to the protection of refugees. Read more

Women and the Economic Crisis

See the report of the ILO Discussion on Gender Equality and Decent Work agreed by Governments, Workers and Employers at the International Labour Conference in Geneva June 2009. For the full results of this years International Labour Conference

The EC Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities between men and women have published an opinion on the impact of the financial crisis on Women and how we should respond.

Mary Robinson at the International Labour Conference

Realizing Rights President Mary Robinson delivered an address on The Role of International Labor Standards in Crisis Response that examined how to place human rights and decent work at the center of efforts to respond to the global economic crisis.

First Woman General Secretary

The new General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) will be Sheila Nunan, the current Deputy General Secretary. Sheila becomes the first woman General Secretary of her union.

UK Disability legislation update from TUC: DDA Claims after Malcolm

The House of Lords ruling in the case of Malcolm v Lewisham has significantly reduced the protection provided by the DDA. This briefing advises how unions can make best use of disability discrimination law at present. This is a second, slightly revised, edition from that first published in April 2009.

OECD Policy Brief

Ending Job Discrimination: Women and ethnic minorities still find it harder to get a good job than other workers in OECD countries, and are more likely to be paid less, despite impressive improvements in recent years. One reason for this continuing problem is discrimination - unequal treatment of equally productive individuals..read on

Niall Crowley Article on Equality Crisis

See Niall Crowley's article on the equality crisis commissioned for Union Post..

European Women's Lobby's 50/50 Campaign for Democracy

We would like to remind you of the European Women's Lobby's 50/50 Campaign for Democracy for better representation of women in decision-making in Europe. Please see the message from EWL below asking you to sign the petition and disseminate the message among your networks.

Information is available in many European languages at http://www.5050democracy.eu/

ETUC disappointed about failure European parliament to improve maternity protection

On Wednesday 6 May 2009, the European Parliament (EP) was expected to vote on proposals of the European Commission to improve the protection of pregnant workers and young mothers in Europe. Due to strong opposition by the conservative and liberal groups in the EP, the report was not put to the vote, and the issue was referred back to the responsible committee in the EP. The European Trade Union Confederation is very disappointed with this outcome.

And see ITUC video on maternity protection

ESRI Research into racial discrimination in recruitment

ESRI research, commissioned by the Equality Authority, has found that Job applicants with identifiably non-Irish names are less than half as likely to be called for interview as those with typical Irish names. The experiment was carried out between March and October 2008. Compared with similar experiments carried out in other countries, the level of discrimination recorded for Ireland is high.