Irish Law Updates

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Vacancy: Equality and Rights Alliance Campaign Coordinator

ERA Campaign Coordinator


The Equality & Rights Alliance (ERA) is an alliance of 79 civil society groups seeking to ensure the promotion and enhancement of human rights, equality and social justice in Ireland. ERA formed in August 2008, following media reports of a proposed merger of five equality and human rights bodies in Ireland. Budget 2009 did not see the amalgamation of the five bodies, or indeed the full amalgamation of the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission, which emerged as a more realistic merger possibility. However, savage budget cuts of 43% to the Equality Authority, coupled with fast-tracked decentralization, and 24% to the Irish Human Rights Commission rendered them unable to carry out their remit in any meaningful way. The ERA campaign has involved media communications, political lobbying and building of the Alliance itself as a strong voice of civil society organisations committed to a strong equality and human rights infrastructure in Ireland.

The ERA Campaign has now received funding to develop the Campaign into 2009; a planning day to set out an action plan for the alliance has taken place. The action plan envisages the continuation of lobbying and communications as well as capacity building for organisations locally and regionally to engage in lobbying actions. It also foresees the employment of a campaign coordinator.

Title: ERA Campaign Coordinator
Location: Dublin
Responsible to: ERA Steering Committee (delegated person)

Relationships: ERA Chairperson, Communications Adviser, ERA members

The main purpose of the Campaign Coordinator is to coordinate the effective implementation of the ERA Campaign.
ERA seeks a person with significant project management experience to co-ordinate the ERA Campaign, working with the Steering Committee to implement the lobbying, communication and alliance-building strategies of ERA.

Key Tasks

Given the nature of the Campaign, the post will require the Campaign Coordinator to be flexible and undertake duties, on occasion, in addition to or in lieu of those listed below. Under the direction of the ERA steering group, the Campaign Coordinator will:
- Provide administrative support to the Alliance, including preparing written correspondence, reports and funding applications.
- Coordinate general campaign activities including lobbying, protests, meetings with political parties, letter writing to TDs, etc.
- Organise logistics of ERA meetings, and public events as agreed e.g. advocacy training days, seminars, round-tables, conferences.
- Coordinate the delivery of the ERA communication strategy with the Communications Adviser
- Be the day-to-day spokesperson for ERA, linking with the Communications Adviser and the Chair
- Handle internal communications with ERA members, in liaison with the Steering Committee- Coordinate and oversee relevant research projects or polls commissioned by ERA, in liaison with the Communications Adviser and the Steering Committee
- Act as the key point of information for the ERA Campaign, handling enquiries from individuals, members of ERA, politicians and members of the public. Press queries will be referred by the Campaign Coordinator to the ERA's Communications Adviser and/or to other ERA spokespersons agreed in advance
- Be responsible for information management including the ERA website, telephone and email queries
- Maintain and update the content of the ERA website, including member lists and other relevant database lists and reports, and ensuring that up to date / relevant campaign actions are regularly featured on the web site pages
- Liaise with organisations and networks working for similar objectives, nationally and internationally
- Account to the Steering Committee for the day-to-day administration of the ERA's budget
- Attend monthly support and supervision sessions, providing written reports documenting work activities and outcomes
- Support fundraising activities, as required
- Make reports for Funders, as required.

Person Specification
Experience and Knowledge

- Experience of running office, administration and financial systems
- Experience in supporting communications strategies (inclusive of handling and referring media enquiries, building strategic alliances and information management)
- Experience of leading projects and proven success in delivery
- Knowledge of the human rights, equality and/or social justice sector in Ireland, preferably coupled with some experience of human rights, equality and /or social justice campaigning (in Ireland or elsewhere)

- Experience of representing an organisation to the public or media
- Experience in conference and event management
- Experience of successful campaigning to achieve social change

- Ability to manage a virtual office; familiarity with IT applications sufficient to update and maintain web site content and management of web blogs
- "Can do" attitude
- results driven, commitment and energy 'to go the extra mile'
- Demonstrated ability to think strategically and to identify opportunities
- Excellent interpersonal and communications skills
- Ability to work in partnership with individuals and organisations across sectors
- Proven problem solving skills
- Ability to prioritise and plan activities in a wide ranging work load
- Ability to communicate clearly and transfer complex information in a concise and accessible form
- Ability to draft briefing notes and other papers, as well as minutes of meetings
- Ability to maintain a high level of social, organisational and professional standards in job-related activities

Salary: Equivalent to HEO Standard Scale (�46,558 - �59,097)
Duration: this is a 6 month contract initially, with a probationary period of up to one month, which may be extended.
Application by CV and covering letter by email to or by post to

Equality & Rights Alliance Co-ordinator, DMG Business Centre, 9-13 Blackhall Place, Dublin 7
Deadline for Applications: Friday 6th February 2009
Shortlisting: Monday 9th February 2009
Interviews: 17th and/or 18th February 2009

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Travellers in Clare - Equal Status Act 2000

An interesting recent case under the Equal Status Act 2000:

Mongans v Clare County Council - DEC-S2008-039

The facts are complex, but it involves a series of cases brought by members of the travelling community surrounding the service provided by Clare County Council arising from the travellers� applications for housing and related accommodation needs and linked issues.

In an unusual move, the Equality Officer (sitting as the Equality tribunal) required that the travellers attend for a series of "callovers/hearings" which would take place on two particular days. When families did not turn up, even though their representative was present, the Officer decided that no prima facie evidence of discrimination had been provided and therefore that the claims failed.

The travellers were represented by Ms Heather Rosen, and the Tribunal went on to decide that Ms Rosen had obstructed and impeded its investigation and hearing of the cases. The Tribunal was of the view that Ms. Rosen had wilfully abused the Tribunal process and had sought to manipulate the manner in which she carried out her investigative and decision making functions. The end result was that Ms Rosen was ordered to pay expenses of �200 in the main case and a large number of similar cases. (See particularly Paras. 6.1 to 6.13).

The decision raises important procedural issues as to whether the Tribunal took sufficient account of the difficulty involved for a representative in gathering together a large number of claimants who are members of the travelling community for a callover/hearing. The whole idea of a "callover/hearing" seems strange in any event. There is a reference in the decision [para.4.5] to a tragic death of a young traveller woman having occurred close to the time of the callovers, but an adjournment only being granted in the case of close family members.

All in all, it seems unfortunate that the Tribunal did not proceed to a full hearing of the substantive issues and a large number of traveller families may well be left with the impression that the state apparatus is acting against them rather than facilitating their claims.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Equality and the Sikh Turban Ban

Lord Lester facilitated a fascinating workshop this morning here at UCC on Equality Law, assisted by Colm O'Cinneide.

Among the many interesting points that arose concerning the recent ban on a Sikh turban in the Garda reserve were the following:

  • Could it be argued that a member of the Garda reserve is engaged in an "occupation" (under the Framework Directive 2000/78/EC)

  • Even though the particular person involved has withdrawn from the Garda reserve, could a Judicial Review be brought against the Garda Commissioner's decision?

  • Could a JR application be made by the Equality Authority and/or the Human Rights Commission?

  • If a JR were brought, an argument could be made that the Garda Commissioner's decision applies both to members of the reserve and ordinary Gardai, if need be, in response to any defence relating to the status of members of the reserve.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Transgender Law - Lydia Foy in High Court

As many people will know, the High Court has decided in the Lydia Foy case that it will issue the first declaration of incompatibilty of an Irish law with the European Convention on Human Rights. [update April 2008 - The full judgment is available on the Courts Service website at ]

Sample news stories and blog posts:

"State in breach of ECHR in transgender case

The High Court has ruled that the State is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) over its failure to recognise a sex change that a transgendered person underwent more than a decade ago. "

Sex change law incompatible with ECHR:

The Foy Case (CCJHR Blog - Fiona De Londras):

Tanya N� Mhuirthile, Time to respect the rights of all gender identities, Irish Times:

Previous Lydia Foy case:

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Friday, August 17, 2007

LRC Report on Spent Convictions

There've been quite a number of interesting reports over the past few weeks which I've been meaning to include in posts but am only getting around to now. The first one is the Law Reform Commission�s Report on Spent Convictions.

Here's an extract from the press release:

"The Report sets out in detail the elements of the proposed spent convictions law and it also includes a draft Spent Convictions Bill to implement the Commission�s recommendations. The key elements include:
  • the types of offences which should be excluded completely from the proposed law: (a) any offence triable by the Central Criminal Court, such as murder; (b) any sexual offence as defined in the Sex Offenders Act 2001; and (c) any other offence where a sentence of more than 6 months (including a suspended sentence) has been imposed in court;
  • the length of time a person must be conviction-free to qualify for the conviction to be regarded as �spent�: 7 years from the date of conviction where a custodial sentence of up to 6 months is imposed; 5 years from the date of conviction where a non-custodial order is made, such as a fine or disqualification;
  • all convictions, including spent convictions, would still be disclosed at a sentencing hearing and in some non-criminal cases such as involving access to children.
  • The system would be automatic, rather than requiring the person to apply to court to have their conviction declared to be spent, as an application-based system would not be transparent and consistent."

Full Report:

Press Release:

Sample News Story:

See also:
Extending the Scope of Employment Equality Legislation (2004)

(The above report included a section on the criminal conviction / ex-offender / ex-prisoner ground.)

Updates 2008-9 - See also:
Spent Convictions Group, Proposals on a Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill (2009)
Spent Convictions Bill 2007
Irish Human Rights Commission, Observations on Spent Convitions Bill (2009)
Irish Penal Reform Trust Position Paper on Spent Convictions

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