Human rights commission’s report highlights housing discrimination

Emily Logan

Housing discrimination has been highlighted in a report by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in its Annual Report.

The report marks significantly increased activity for the Commission during its fourth full year of work as Ireland’s national human rights and equality body, directly accountable to the Oireachtas.

In launching the report, Chief Commissioner Emily Logan highlighted specifically the issue of housing, and the increased level and types of discrimination being experienced in Ireland.

She said: “The crises in direct provision and in housing lay bare just how much further we have to go to eliminate discrimination and violations of human rights in Ireland. They also show how much our state remains wedded to approaches that we know from experience simply do not work.”

In relation to the Commission’s legal activity, Ms Logan added: “Our engagement with the courts is a crucial means by which we can ensure that the human rights and equality consideration of legal cases are clearly articulated and brought to bear on court deliberations. We took on new applications for legal assistance across multiple grounds including age discrimination, disability, family status, housing assistance and membership of the Traveller Community.”

The report also details that Commission grants of legal advice or legal representation in new cases grew by 40 per cent from the previous year seeing a range of cases taken up relating to discrimination and human rights issues.

Successful outcomes in legal representation cases during 2018 included: a case in which a tenant won their challenge of their landlord in discrimination relation to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP); a settlement for a family refused the opportunity to rent a property by an estate agent because they had children; a case brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on a question of age discrimination related to entry to the Gardaí, which looked specifically at the authority of tribunals to disapply national law where inconsistent with EU law and a settlement secured for a deaf man whose job interview offer was withdrawn when he sought the provision of an ISL interpreter.

Additionally, 1,711, public concerns were handled by the Commission about discrimination.

The top three public concerns related to the Equal Status Acts, focused on discrimination on the grounds of disability (33 per cent ) housing assistance (22 per cent) and race (15 per cent).

The top three public concerns under the Employment Equality Acts focused on discrimination in employment and job seeking on the grounds of disability (30 per cent), gender (25 per cent) and the race ground (16 per cent).

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