FLAC has launched a new website ourvoiceourrights.ie as a space to inform & involve Irish civil society regarding Ireland’s upcoming examination under the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights (ICESCR) on 8-9 June 2015.
The UN Committee on ESCR in Geneva has released a “list of issues”, questions, for the Irish Government to provide further information which must be responded to by 17 March.
FLAC, ATD and many other NGOs will be keeping an eye on the Government to ensure that the responses to these questions are published sooner rather than later.
Our Voice, Our Rights, the parallel report on ESCR in Ireland, was submitted by FLAC to the UN on behalf of civil society on 30 September 2014.
FLAC is now looking to update this material as well as introduce new information & evidence that comes to light subsequent to September 2014.
Currently the parallel report has highlighted the following pressing issues in relation to poverty and social exclusion:
- Civil legal aid is not extended to areas of law (social welfare, housing, employment) that interact with poorer people;
- Taxation system is not weighed in their favour of poorer people but leads to those on low incomes carrying most of the taxation burden (e.g. through VAT);
- Combat Poverty Agency dedicated to tackling poverty & social exclusion abolished & replaced with a body that lacks independence within the Dpt. of Social Protection;
- Loss of funding for local community organisations & restructuring of local government is affecting finances for those experiencing poverty & social exclusion;
- Low wages earners & social welfare claimants are unable to maintain an adequate standard of living, supported by research from the Living Wage campaign & minimum essential standards of living;
- Child poverty is growing & recession has hit families with children the greatest, fuel poverty in particular is affecting the elderly and food poverty is on the rise;
- Consistent poverty rates and the level of deprivation experienced during the recession have increased, government targets on reducing poverty have changed & pushed to 2020.
The UN Committee on ESCR in Geneva has asked the government in the “list of issues” for further information, here are the questions;
- Q 1. Information on how the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion has addressed consistent poverty and those at-risk-of-poverty-in particular amongst children, families with children, lone parents and Travellers and Roma?
- Q 2. Has the National food and nutrition policy in para. 275 of State report been adopted? Paragraph 275 states “The Department of Health is preparing a national food and nutrition policy and an NGO, Healthy Food For All Initiative, seeks to combat food poverty by promoting access, availability and affordability of healthy food for low-income groups.”
- Q 3. Information on measures to access healthy adequate food in particular for disadvantaged groups?
- Q 4. Have changes to the minimum wage factored in a decent standard of living for workers & their families?
If you have any information in relation to these questions, The FLAC ICESCR Team would appreciate you getting in contact with them. If you are interested in writing an article for the blog on ourvoiceourrights.ie on any issue(s) under ICESCR or on the reporting process as a whole the ICESCR Team would also appreciate you getting in touch.