Human Rights meeting in Donegal Town
by sue doherty
There is a high level of awareness of human rights issues in Donegal, according to a civil liberties expert who visited Donegal town on Tuesday.
Deirdre Duffy, one of the organisers of a public meeting on human rights that was held at the Abbey Hotel on Tuesday morning, said she was very impressed by those who came along to take part.
"The level of awareness around human rights issues shown and the quality of the questions were very good.
"Some of the issues raised included the representation of women and Travellers in public life, the provision of services for asylum seekers, public transport in rural areas and access to health services, services and supports for people with disabilities, mental health issues and for carers, rights of prisoners, services and support for gays and lesbians, and the general need to help people know what their rights are.
"Concerns were also expressed about the recent cuts to the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority, as these cuts make it even more difficult for get their rights upheld."
The event was held as part of the ‘Your Rights. Right Now.' nationwide public consultation process. Seventeen leading national organisations came together to form the ‘Your Rights. Right Now.' campaign in the run-up to the first-ever UN review (Universal Periodic Review or UPR) of Ireland's human rights record.
In March, ‘Your Rights. Right Now.' will submit a report to the United Nations, summarising the issues that people and organisations have raised at meetings throughout the country - including at this meeting in Donegal. This report will feed into the UPR process. In October, the United Nations will conduct its official review of Ireland's rights record, and will then issue recommendations on what can be done to make sure all human rights in Ireland are protected and respected.
This high profile international review comes just as Ireland has announced its intention to stand for election to the UN Human Rights Council in May 2012. A spokesperson for the ‘Your Rights. Right Now' campaign commented: "The State's human rights record is now Ireland's election manifesto."
The seventeen organisations involved in the ‘Your Rights. Right Now.' campaign are: Amnesty International, the Children's Rights Alliance, Dchas, Educate Together, Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Integration Centre, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Irish Family Planning Association, the Irish Penal Reform Trust, the Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament, the Irish Traveller Movement, the National Women's Council of Ireland, Simon Communities of Ireland, Transgender Equality Network Ireland, and the Union of Students in Ireland.
If you would like to make your views on human rights issues in Ireland known, and be part of this consultation process, you can take part in a survey and/or fill out a form on www.rightsnow.ie.