A national seminar in Galway City on the public sector equality and human rights duty has celebrated the leadership for and commitment to its implementation by public bodies in the city. Galway City Local Community Development Committee hosted the conference, which included presentations from the Irish Human Rights Committee, which is responsible for supporting and enforcing the Duty.
“We seek to implement this public sector equality and human rights duty not only to meet our obligations but to give expression to our ambitions for advancing equality and human rights” said Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, in closing the event.
Implementation of the Duty “does present challenges for public bodies to integrate equality and human rights into our strategic planning systems and, ultimately, to deepen our impact on equality and human rights issues” he said. He praised the work done by public bodies in the city in “creating the institutional conditions” for implementing the Duty, and committed to build on this in now working for its “full implementation”.
The public sector equality and human rights duty was noted as a remarkable evolution in Irish equality and human rights legislation. It requires public bodies, in all their functions, to have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality. and protect human rights for service-users, staff, and policy beneficiaries. It is enshrined in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission 2014.
Galway City Council, Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board, Tusla Galway Roscommon, and Galway City Partnership presented the progress they have made in implementing this Duty. These organisations noted the value of the Duty in building on work already being done on equality and human rights by locating this in a more planned and systematic approach. They pointed to its potential in driving improvements in this work and allowing gaps to be addressed.
Ann Irwin of Galway City Community Network identified the “critical importance of the public sector equality and human rights duty for communities experiencing inequality and human rights issues”. She noted, the progress being made on its implementation in the city, and the participation of civil society in this. She highlighted “the potential in the duty to lead to improvements in the situation and experience of groups experiencing inequality and human rights issues” and to “underpin an organisational culture concerned with equality and human rights across all public bodies”.
A guidance manual "Realising Potential - Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty Implementation manual" was launched at the seminar. This provides practical supports for public bodies for implementing the Duty. The manual can be found at: Galway LCDC Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty - Implementation Manual.pdf
The seminar, the guidance manual, and supports to the public sector bodies involved all formed part of a Galway City Local Community Development Committee project funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.