Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
103. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB have implemented the public sector and human rights duty under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014; if they have reported in their annual reports each year since enactment on the developments and achievements with regard to human rights; if the bodies have at all times promoted equality of opportunity and treatment of staff and persons to which they provide services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17891/21]
104. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the ESRI, the IPA and the SEUPB have set out in their strategic plans an assessment of the human rights and equality issues they view to be relevant to the functions and purpose of the body with regard to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17892/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 104 together.
In the first instance, the Deputy may wish to note the nature of the bodies referenced in his question. The Institute of Public Administration (IPA) and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) are companies limited by guarantee who are in receipt of grant funding from my Department. The Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) is a cross-border North South Implementation Body, established on foot of the Good Friday Agreement and jointly sponsored by my Department and the Department of Finance in Northern Ireland. The SEUPB operates under the policy direction of the North South Ministerial Council, and is headquartered in Belfast, with smaller offices in Omagh and Monaghan.
I am advised that the position in respect of these bodies is as set out below.
Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)
Whilst not subject to the Act, the ESRI adheres to all relevant equality legislation and the Institute’s policies are consistent with the Act. In addition, the ESRI has worked in partnership with IHREC and the NDA since 2018, utilising IHREC guides to create accessible ESRI publications, and implementing such guidelines for select publications on a trial basis. The Institute is currently working on a project, with research authors, external copyeditors and formatters, to implement a workable process/guide for creating accessible publications on a wider basis.
Institute of Public Administration (IPA)
In accordance with the requirements of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Act 2014 (Section 42), the IPA is cognisant that in the performance of its duties that it has regard to the elimination of discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity and the protection of the human rights of all staff and clients availing of its services. The IPA has a number of policies and codes in place to ensure this implementation. These include Code of Conduct, Dignity at Work and Equal Opportunity Policy. While the IPA has not formally reported on its obligations under the Act, the principles espoused in the Act underpin IPA corporate policy and values. The IPA is fully committed to eliminating discrimination, promoting equality and protecting human rights at all times.
Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB)
The SEUPB is fully committed to carrying out all its functions with regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity as mandated in Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act (1998). This includes equality between people of different religious beliefs, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation; between men and women generally, between persons with a disability and persons without, between persons with dependants and persons without. The SEUPB has drawn up an Equality Scheme which sets out how the body proposes to fulfil its statutory obligations. The SEUPB commit the necessary resources in terms of people, time and money to make sure that the Section 75 statutory duties are complied with and that the Equality Scheme is implemented effectively and on time.
The SEUPB is committed to having effective internal arrangements in place to ensure its successful compliance with the Section 75 statutory duties and for monitoring and reviewing its progress. The SEUPB undertakes audits of inequalities and prepares a Section 75 Action Plan to cover the period of the Body’s corporate plan as a means of ensuring effective implementation of its duties through the internal reporting systems.
The SEUPB is committed to applying screening methods to all new and revised policies and where necessary and appropriate, it will subject new policies to further equality impact assessments. Screening reports include all policies recently screened and include the decisions reached. A full listing of the SEUPBs most recent outcome reports will be uploaded to its website, when available.
Under Section 49A of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 as amended by the Disability Discrimination (NI) Order 2006, the SEUPB is required when carrying out its functions to have due regard to the need:
- to promote positive attitudes towards disabled people; and
- to encourage participation by disabled people in public life.
Under Section 49B of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, the SEUPB is also required to submit to the Equality Commission, a Disability Action Plan showing how it proposes to fulfil these duties in relation to its functions. A Disability Action Pan has been prepared for this purpose.
Equality Statistics for the PEACE IV and INTERREG VA Programmes are monitored by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and a summary of these are included in the Annual Implementation Reports for these Programmes.
The SEUPB is also fully committed to carrying out its employment duties and responsibilities as outlined in the Fair Employment and Treatment Order 1998.