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COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN CONSIDERS THE REPORTS OF IRELAND

15 February 2017

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today considered the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Ireland, submitted under the simplified reporting procedure, on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

In her opening remarks, Patricia O’Brien, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, stressed the continued leadership of Ireland on the initiative to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society, particularly in the light of the challenges and increasing dangers activists faced in many parts of the world. 

Introducing the report, Carol Baxter, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Justice and Equality, said that Ireland was well advanced on its path to recover from the economic and financial crisis, with the Government focusing on job creation and housing provision.  An ambitious agenda of social policy reform was well underway: the legislation in the areas of domestic violence, sexual offences and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had been advanced, and finishing touches were being put to the inclusion strategies for persons with disabilities and for Travellers and Roma.  Landmark legislative reforms had been undertaken to advance key equality rights, including the legislation on marriage equality.  A new National Women’s Strategy 2017-2020 aimed to be a catalyst for action to promote women’s leadership in a wide range of areas, including politics, business and sport; public consultations on the strategy were ongoing.  A Citizen’s Assembly had been established to consider a number of matters, including constitutional reform, related to the complex and deeply personal issue of abortion; the Assembly would report to the Government in April 2017.

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts urged Ireland to include specific gender equality language in the Constitution, and amend the anachronistic provision related to the role of women at home which they felt perpetuated discrimination on the basis of gender and was at the core of the low participation of women in political and public life.  They inquired about the work of the Citizen’s Assembly established to study the issue of abortion and asked how the Government would proceed if it called for a referendum to abolish the Eighth Amendment, and also what course of action would be taken if the referendum was not recommended.  The non-recognition of the Traveller ethnicity weakened the protection of women from this group, who suffered multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, race and ethnicity.  Was Ireland willing to fully investigate, accept the responsibility, and remedy the victims of past human rights violations and abuses in Magdalene Laundries and in Mother and Baby Homes, in full conformity with international standards?  Experts inquired whether the new bill would bring about general criminalization of domestic violence, and whether the new bill on prostitution would have an adverse impact on sex workers. 

In her concluding remarks, Ms. O’Brien reiterated the commitment to the continued advancement of women’s rights in Ireland, including through the Committee’s process and the review, and said that Ireland would continue to engage with civil society organizations in the drafting of the national women’s strategy.

The delegation of Ireland included representatives of the Department of Justice and Equality, the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Protection, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will reconvene in public on Thursday, 16 February, at 10 a.m. to consider the sixth periodic report of Jordan (CEDAW/C/JOR/6).

Report

The combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Ireland submitted under the simplified reporting procedure can be read here: CEDAW/C/IRL/6-7.

Presentation of the Report

PATRICIA O’BRIEN, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in her opening remarks, reiterated the commitment to ongoing improvement in the promotion and protection of human rights and to engagement and dialogue with civil society in that regard.  While Ireland’s membership in the Human Rights Council had concluded in 2015, the country continued to lead on two very important initiatives.  One was related to key actions required of States to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society actors, which was motivated by an awareness of the challenges and increasing dangers faced by civil society activists in many parts of the world, and also by a recognition of the value to States of civil society.  The second was the initiative of the preventable mortality and morbidity of children under the age of five, which stressed the role played by women’s and girl’s education and empowerment when addressing the underlying causes of child mortality and morbidity. 
 
CAROL BAXTER, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Justice and Equality, in the introduction of the report, said that Ireland was proud of its domestic record of protecting and promoting women’s rights, while it recognized that more needed to be done.  Ireland was well advanced on its path to recovery from the economic and financial crisis.  The overall national social policy priorities were job creation and increased housing provision, and the statistics for the last quarter of 2016 indicated 3.3 percent increase in the rate of female employment over the previous twelve months, while as of January 2017 the female unemployment rate had dropped to six percent.  An ambitious agenda of social policy reform was well underway, and the legislation in the areas of domestic violence, sexual offences and ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had been advanced.  A new Migrant Integration Strategy set the framework for action by Government, business and civil society in this regard; the finishing touches were being put to the National Inclusion Strategies for Persons with Disabilities and for Traveller and Roma, which would contain precise actions to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged women; while the Affordable Childcare Scheme would be introduced later this year.

Landmark legislative reforms had been undertaken to advance key equality rights, including the legislation on marriage equality; the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 to protect the rights of children of diverse families; and the Gender Recognition Act 2015 which provided legal recognition of the right of transgender persons in their preferred gender.  A public consultation on a new National Women’s Strategy 2017-2020 had been launched in November 2016, whose proposed aim was to be a catalyst for action to promote women’s leadership in a wide range of areas, including politics, business and sport.  The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill would criminalize purchase of sexual services, strengthen the laws relating to child sexual exploitation and introduce provisions to support and protect victims of sexual violence during the criminal process; the bill was expected to shortly complete its passage though the Houses of Parliament.  The Domestic Violence Bill 2017 which advanced the protection for victims, had been recently published and its enactment was expected as soon as possible.

The debate on termination of pregnancy was an extremely difficult issue in Ireland, and it had been debated for more than 35 years, and was a subject of referenda, Supreme Court decisions and extensive parliamentary scrutiny, said Dr. Baxter.  In an effort to find a resolution suitable for such a complex and deeply personal issue, a Citizen’s Assembly had been established to consider a number of matters including constitutional reform.  The Assembly, chaired by Judge Mary Laffoy, a Justice of the Supreme Court and comprised on 99 citizens randomly chosen from the population was currently discussing the Eighth Amendment which guaranteed the right to life of the “unborn”; the report would be submitted in April 2017 for a careful consideration by the Government.

Questions by Experts

A Committee Expert acknowledged that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women formed an important part of Ireland’s human rights and equality law obligations, and took note of the Ireland’s continued maintenance of the reservations to the Convention.

Turning to gender equality legislation, the Expert recalled the Committee’s previous concluding observations urging Ireland to amend the Constitution to include explicit references to gender equality and to use gender sensitive language throughout the text.  What were the plans to address the outdated and anachronistic constitutional provision on the role of women in the home? 

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2015 prohibited gender discrimination in the provision of good and services, the provision of accommodation and access to education, but it had precluded legal actions against legislative provisions which meant that any legislation which discriminated against women or had a disproportionately negative impact on women, fell outside of the scope of the Acts and could not be challenged under domestic equality legislation.  Were there any plans to review that statutory exemption? 

Another Expert took up the issue of non-recognition of the Traveller ethnicity, which weakened the protection of Traveller women who suffered multiple forms of discrimination coupled with a toxic mix of racism and gender-based discrimination.  What was the timeframe on the recognition of Traveller ethnicity?  How would the recognized weaknesses in the National Strategy for Traveller and Roma Integration be addressed, in cooperation with women from those groups?

The Expert recognized the efforts of Ireland to recognize the secrets from the historical human rights violations and abuses in Magdalene Laundries and in Mother and Baby Homes.  Was Ireland ready to review the terms of reference for the investigation and extend it to the Magdalene Laundries, and to fully investigate, in full conformity with international human rights standards, all past human rights violations and abuses, recognize the victims, accept the responsibility and remedy the victims? 

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation explained the dualist legal system in Ireland, and added that before proceeding with the ratification of an international treaty, domestic legislation first needed to be amended and brought up to the international standard.  That, for example, had been the reason for the long delay in the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Ireland was close to finalizing the new Travellers inclusion strategy, which had been developed following an intensive consultation process on themes, high objectives, and specific actions.  The strategy would focus on a high-level of engagement with Traveller communities and resourcing and enabling them to take appropriate measures.  The recognition of Traveller ethnicity did not carry any legal or expenditure implications, but it had huge symbolic importance to the Traveller community and was a way to address the legacy of marginalization.

Ireland had entered three reservations to the Convention, said the delegation, adding that the reservations on article 11 on employment, and exclusion on the grounds of gender from employment in police and prison services might be too broad, and Ireland would undertake consultations on the issue.  Ireland would maintain reservations on article 16 on guardianship and custody of children born out of wedlock which treated a mother and a father differently, in a sense that the father was not automatically a guardian of the child unless cohabitation could be proved, or the mother agreed to shared guardianship. 

The State would hold a referendum on article 40 of the Constitution concerning the role of women at home, as there was a societal agreement that it was outdated.

Responding to the questions on addressing historic human rights violations and abuses, the delegation said that the Commission on the Mother and Baby Homes was fully independent in the conduct of its investigation; it would report within three years and its reports would be published.  The scope and the terms of reference focused on institutions which could clearly be identified as providing shelter, ante and post-natal services to mothers and their children; accordingly, 14 homes had been included in the scope, and the Commission was also asked to include four sample county homes as well.  It was important to say that the scope of the investigation concerned the relationships between the homes and other institutions, organizations and individuals involved in the entry and exit of mothers and babies from the homes; at the same time, the Commission could, in the course of its investigation, report on any other matter outside the stated scope which warranted public interest and attention and hence increase the scope of the investigation to cover all relevant matters.

In their follow-up questions, Experts stressed that the recognition of the Traveller ethnicity would not only carry a symbolic importance, but would also affect their protection from racial discrimination.  If it was of the symbolic importance only, why had Ireland waited twenty years to proceed with the recognition?

The delegation explained that since 1990s the Traveller community had enjoyed a protected status under the equality legislation, and from that point of view it was said that the recognition of ethnicity carried a symbolic meaning.  It was hugely symbolic as it would impact the community’s self-esteem and would allow for the creation of a platform on the basis of which they could engage mutually and with the government in order to address the key issues the Travellers were facing in the area of housing, education, health and employment.  The recognition of the collective identity of the Travellers did not carry any practical implications or implications for public expenditures for the key issues facing the community.

Questions by Experts

In the next round of questions, a Committee Expert took note of the negative impact of austerity measures on public and statutory equality bodies and a particularly drastic impact on gender budgeting, and asked about the current status, mandate, resources and activities of the national machinery for the advancement of women.

How would the impact of the old National Women’s Strategy 2007-2016 be evaluated and how would the findings be used to build the new strategy 2017-2020?  What was being done to ensure that the new strategy was more result-oriented, with indicators, benchmarks, timelines, and policy implementation and monitoring mechanisms?

How did Ireland intend to improve the collection and analysis of data pertaining to the areas covered by the Convention so as to support policymaking and the promotion of substantive equality between women and men?

Another Expert commended the hugely successful employment support programme which provided social skills, education and training for women from socio-economically depressed areas, and asked about its fate. 
Some political parties had failed to reach gender quotas in their electoral lists, noted the Experts, and asked about the plans to extend the provision of quotas into the local electoral processes, and in the academia.  What other measures, such as civic education and social care, would be used in conjunction with the use of quotas?  

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation stressed the whole-of-government approach to gender equality and restated the commitment to gender proofing and gender budgeting.  A lot of work had been done by many departments to increase the capacity for gender proofing for understanding gender and equality impact of policies and measures.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission was the statutory body for the purposes of the European Union gender equality directive.  As many other public bodies, it had suffered significant budgetary cuts in the framework of austerity measures, but it was important to say that most of its funding had now been restored.  There were funding schemes available for locally based women and Traveller groups which had also suffered cuts, however, the 2016 funding levels would be maintained in 2017, with the hope to increase it in 2018.

Responding to the questions raised about the national women’s strategy, the delegation said that the Strategy Committee had been set up to evaluate the previous strategy which included civil society and government departments.  Consultations were ongoing throughout the country, with a dynamic submission process by civil society, and an active involvement by Traveller women, women with disabilities and migrant women.  The intention was for the Strategy to reflect the diversity of women in Ireland, and the aim was to provide a mechanism to boost women’s leadership in many areas - in politics, but also in business and sports.  The funding of € 4 million to facilitate return to work for women, and another € 1.5 million funding to support female entrepreneurship, had recently been announced.

There was a gender imbalance at higher echelons of civil service, while women were a majority at middle and lower levels, the delegation acknowledged.  Women applied to fewer top jobs in civil service, but they had a better success rate.  The Government was researching the issue to understand the reasons.

In follow-up questions, a Committee Expert commended Ireland for measures taken to address domestic violence and noted that it was still a huge challenge.  Which specific steps were being taken to ensure non-statutory agencies engagement in data collection and the resourcing mechanism?

The delegation said that the strategy on domestic violence addressed the issue of data, and added that the police forces were engaged with the statistics department on the issue.  The data collection and recording system in the police was now changing to add a category of domestic violence in recorded crimes and incidents.  One specific action in the Traveller and Roma strategy was to develop data collection mechanisms, which would enable comparison across time, and if successful this methodology could be rolled out to other areas, such as migrants.

Questions by Experts

On stereotypes and harmful practices, an Expert noted the very urgent need to amend the constitutional provision related to the role of women at  home which perpetuated discrimination on the basis of gender and was at the core of the low participation of women in political and public life.  

Intersex genital mutilation was still practiced in Ireland, causing life-long pain and suffering.  Ireland had been asked to prohibit that harmful practice, so what was the current status?  What measures were being taken to eradicate female genital mutilation, including the adoption of a plan as proposed by civil society organizations?

It seemed that there was a lack of understanding by state officials on what domestic violence really was, and more needed to be done in terms of training, awareness-raising and sensitisation, as well as in improving data collection mechanisms and systems.  The Committee welcomed the publication of the Domestic Violence Bill 2017, and asked whether it would provide for general criminalization of domestic violence, as requested by the Istanbul Convention, the ratification of which the Bill aimed to facilitate.

The delegation was also asked how the national action plan of human trafficking 2009-2012 had been evaluated and which concrete problems had been identified in its implementation.  Ireland was a country of destination for human trafficking, mainly for purposes of sexual and labour exploitation, with trafficking for forced marriages and forced labour on the increase.  Which measures were being taken to provide adequate support, assistance and protection to all victims of human trafficking, regardless of their nationality and immigration status?  What was being done to ensure that immigration rules and regulations did not increase the vulnerability of women and girls fleeing conflict and war, to trafficking? 

Ireland had just adopted the bill on prostitution which would introduce the Nordic approach, and the Committee Chairperson asked about the research conducted into the impact of the Bill on sex workers.  Child sexual exploitation had been the main reason behind the adoption of the Bill – could the delegation elaborate?  How would the Bill protect victims of sexual violence in the criminal process?  What programmes were in place to support sex workers wishing to exit prostitution?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to questions on stereotypes and harmful practices, the delegation reiterated the agreement in the society that the article in the Constitution on the role of women in home was outdated, and there would a referendum on the issue. A delegate stressed the importance of education and information in changing the mind-sets as some of the practices were deeply ingrained and could not simply be outlawed.  Every year, two to three intersex children were born, who were transferred to specialist hospitals for detailed assessment and support to the parents.  Only medically necessary treatments, which might include surgery, were performed; any other surgeries were undertaken only with the full consensus of medical experts and the parents.  The specialist female genital mutilation clinic was in place to offer specialist advice on the practice, while this issue would be included in the upcoming national intercultural health strategy. 

The delegation concurred that steps needed to be taken to train and sensitise state officials on domestic violence and added that the national strategy of domestic violence included training activities in relation to dynamics of domestic violence, particularly for criminal justice officials.  There were no ideological obstacles to criminalizing domestic violence, but there were many legislative and administrative consequences and which might work to the disadvantage of women and might hamper prosecution.  It was extremely difficult to codify prohibition of psychological violence, but Ireland was considering the issue under the concept of coercive control.  In terms of protective and restraining orders, the new domestic violence bill would clarify the existing prohibition of communication by the perpetrator with the victim, to include also online communication.

Ireland was indeed concerned that there were no convictions for human trafficking since 2013, nevertheless it was important to acknowledge the deterrent impact of the anti-trafficking act, and also that human trafficking was a difficult crime to prosecute.  This said, there were prosecutions in the pipeline, and in the past several weeks three separate cases of labour exploitation had been brought before the court. 

Victims of human trafficking were accommodated in same facilities as asylum seekers run by the Reception and Accommodation department of the government, which offered geographical ease of access, as well as access to health and other services.  Ireland was looking into setting up separate shelters for victims of trafficking in persons.  Very low threshold applied in the identification of victims, allowing for the fact that many victims were reluctant to engage with the police.  The victim identification procedure was being thoroughly revised under the new anti-trafficking plan which would formalize the involvement of non-governmental organizations in the identification process.

Questions by Experts

A Committee Expert addressed the issue of equal representation of women in the judiciary, government and the local administration, and noted that gender targets and quotas were still not being met, and in some instances were even below European standards.

The delegation was also asked about concrete measures aimed at improving and diversifying the participation of women in decision-making bodies; what was being done to ensure equal participation of women in peace negotiations and conflict management and resolution; and steps taken to improve the participation of Traveller and Roma women in public and political life.  What were the data on the participation of women in diplomatic and foreign service and in international organizations, including the number of women ambassadors?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding, the delegation noted that significant progress had been made in the representation of women in some areas – for example in the judiciary, while in others it was lagging.  The target of 30 percent of female candidates in general elections had been attained and the proportion of women elected increased from 15 per cent in 2011 to 22 per cent in 2016.  That was an improvement, but Ireland was still lagging behind a number of European countries.  In addition to the introduction of quotas, “soft” measures were being taken, such as training of women in political leadership by non-governmental organizations, and women caucus in the Parliament.  Furthermore, a new open, inclusive and transparent process was put in place in the Government to identify promising candidates for the new appointments and promotions.

Women constituted 16 per cent of members on company boards, up from six percent ten years earlier, informed the delegation.

Ireland had established a conflict and fragility team in order to develop a more comprehensive policy which was informed by the women, peace and security agenda, and in particular the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on the subject.  Ireland was one of the four donor countries to the Global Acceleration Instrument recommended by the Global Study into the implementation of the resolution 1325.

Ireland had also adopted two consecutive national action plans for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 which drew in the experience from conflict prevention and resolution work, humanitarian work and peacekeeping.  The second action plan, started in January 2015 was built on the four pillars of: prevention of conflict, including gender-based violence; participation of women in decision-making; protection from gender-based violence and sexual exploitation and abuse, and other abuse of international humanitarian law; and relief, recovery and rehabilitation.  The current officer commanding the Irish peacekeeping troops in the Golan was a woman.

On political participation and representation of women from minority groups, the delegation said that Ireland had a very small Roma population which had not been historically in the country but rather migrated in, so the challenges related to their political participation were the same as any other migrant group.  In terms of supporting political participation of the Travellers, the Government was hoping to restore the budgets for grassroots organizations that had been cut during the austerity period, and also had in place capacity building programmes.

The National Women’s Strategy was currently being developed, and the issue of quotas would be addressed within.  The Migrant Integration Strategy did not extend to Travellers and Roma, as there was a separate inclusion strategy for those groups, which was being finalized, and would contain a range of specific measures to address issues of concern such as health, housing, employment and others.  There were about 40,000 Travellers and 3,000 Roma who were dispersed around the country, and it was difficult to see how adoption of quotas for their participation would work in practice. 

Questions by Experts

On education, a Committee Expert commended the adoption of the national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and asked how the strategy was being implemented through school curricula. 

What initiatives were in place to institutionalize a mandatory, universal and comprehensive rights-based sexuality and reproductive health education in schools, with a particular attention to prevention of early and unwanted pregnancy?  How many teenage girls and boys had taken part in the initiative to support return to school following early pregnancy

What was the extent of the involvement of Roma in the annual revision exercise of the education strategy?

Another Expert recognized the economic recovery and reduction in unemployment, but income inequalities and pay gap, including gender pay gap, was on the increase.  The delegation was asked whether Ireland considered the adoption of the mandatory annual gender pay gap reporting for public and private sector companies; the recommendations by the Commission instituted to study gender pay gap; and measures taken to address gender pension gap.

On abortion and the work of the Citizen’s Assembly established to study the issue, another Expert asked what the Government would do once the Citizen’s Assembly presented their report in April 2017, and what the role of the Parliamentary commission was.  If the Citizen’s Assembly called for a referendum to abolish the Eighth Amendment, how would the Government proceed; if not, would the Government call for a referendum citing positive international standards in this regard?  What would happen if the majority of citizens voted to abolish the Eight Amendment?

With regard to the management of labour, the Expert noted the standard used by hospitals which required three births per hospital bed in 24 hours, which raised concern that needs of women were not addressed in line with the international standards.  Would Ireland allocate new resources for maternal health and adopt new approach to birth that would follow a specific rhythm of each birth?

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to the questions on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education in schools, the delegation said that all schools could invite external visitors to complement the curriculum, and that those visits had to take place according to well-defined criteria.  All interventions needed to be complementary to school ethos, respect the school’s child protection policy, interventions had to be researched and delivered in partnership with teachers, parents had to be consulted on the visit, while classroom teachers had to remain in the classroom all the time and retain the central role in the pedagogical process.

One of the specific activities in the national strategy for inclusion of the Travellers was a temporary special measure for the retention of Traveller children in school.  Ireland had recently adopted paternity leave – two weeks with full pay, while the maternity leave stood at 26 weeks.  Paid parental leave also covered part-time employees.  There was also a possibility of taking an unpaid parental leave.  Gender gap in poverty among those aged 65 and over was lower than the European Union average.

On abortion, the Citizen’s Assembly was due to issue the report in June to be submitted to a subcommittee in the Parliament, which would consider it further and would then be passed on to the Parliament for discussions.  If a decision were to be taken by the Parliament to organize a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, then a bill on the wording of the question to be asked in the referendum would have to be drafted.  Ireland took human rights and women’s rights seriously, but it was not possible to say now what the course of action would be if the Citizen’s Assembly did not recommend the referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

The delegation was asked, in follow-up questions, whether Ireland would remove the legal provision which allowed conscientious objection by pharmacists in order to ensure access to emergency contraception, and also remove the requirement of three to five years residency in Ireland in order to access higher education and so facilitate access for undocumented women.  Had Ireland amended its domestic legislation to bring it in compliance with the provisions of the International Labour Organization Convention on domestic workers?

Responding, the delegation explained that there was a code of conduct for pharmacists which required them to undertake reasonable action to ensure that patient care was not compromised.  Emergency contraception was available to holders of medical cards, while condoms were freely available without any restrictions, and hormonal contraceptives were available over the counter.  The “Free fee initiative” to support access to higher education indeed had a residency requirement, which was consistent with the aim of the initiative which was to support the education of migrant children who were already integrated in the school system.

Questions by Experts

An Expert asked about the implementation of the right to reside according to the European Union directive, which, because of the requirement of the habitual residence condition, might deprive Roma women of access to social protection and benefits.

On rural women, the delegation was asked about a very low number of women owning farms and whether the mid-term review of the national rural development strategy would include gender considerations and address barriers women faced in farming and agriculture.

Would refugee and asylum seekers be allowed to work even before the processing of their application was completed?   On women in detention, the Expert noted the increase in the number of incarcerated women, from 155 in 1999 to 3,411 in 2015; a high proportion of women were in remand, and there was permanent overcrowding in female prisons.  The Committee received information that 80 per cent of females in prisons were there for failing to pay a court ordered fine.

Replies by the Delegation

There was a distinction between refugees and asylum seekers, with refugee women allowed to work immediately upon arrival to the country.  The new migration management procedures would reduce the processing time, which would have direct impact on when asylum seekers could commence work.

Social benefits payments available to individuals depended  on their circumstances, and time spent working in Ireland and in the European Union.  If individuals did not qualify for social benefits payments, they could apply for social welfare, for which a place of habitual residence was a requirement.  This rule extended to all applicants regardless of nationality or ethnicity, including Roma.  There was no requirement of a minimum time of residence to fulfil habitual residency.  In case of hardship, Roma could access other forms of support which were not subject to habitual residence requirement.  As citizens of the European Union, Roma had the same right to employment as Irish citizens.

The number of women in detention had increased, but women tended to spend short time in prison, said the delegation.  

Questions by Experts

With regard to the child support system, a Committee Expert noted that the changes in the single parent welfare support had negatively affected child maintenance and increased poverty among single mothers, and it even constrained women survivors of domestic violence to contact their abusers to request child maintenance as a requirement for women to access their own job seekers transition payment.

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation explained the one-parent family payment system and said that the Government was currently reviewing the legislation and looking into the expansion of social protection provisions.

Concluding Remarks

PATRICIA O’BRIEN, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, reiterated the commitment to the continued advancement of women’s rights in Ireland, including through the Committee’s process and the review.  Consultations with civil society organizations formed a crucial part of human rights reporting and Ireland would continue to engage with civil society actors including from Traveller communities, in the drafting of the national women’s strategy.  

DALIA LEINARTE, Committee Chairperson, commended Ireland for its efforts and encouraged it to address various recommendations which the Committee would issue with the purpose of more comprehensive implementation of the Convention throughout the State party.


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