Draft Minutes of the 21st Ordinary Meeting of the Human Rights Commission 19 December 2002,10.30 a.m. Stephen's Green Club



Maurice Manning (President), William Binchy, Olive Braiden, Robert Daly, Suzanne Egan, Michael Farrell, Nuala Kelly, Jane Liddy, Clodach McGrory, Tom O'Higgins, Gerard Quinn, Katherine Zappone


Alpha Connelly, Chief Executive Sophie Magennis



Martin Collins, Fionnuala Ni Aoláin, Mervyn Taylor

It was agreed that item 10 of the Agenda would be taken after item 4.


Minutes of the 20th Ordinary Meeting of the Commission


The minutes were approved subject to the following amendments:

. Paragraph 9.3 to read "Commissioners were invited to submit observations in writing on amendments agreed during the plenary discussion to Katherine Zappone in advance of the next meeting of the Commission."

The second paragraph 9.3 to be renumbered 9.4.


Matters Arising from the Minutes of the 19th Ordinary Meeting


There was no matter arising.

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Report of the Chief Executive






It was noted that copies of the Commission's two publications; "A Proposal for a New Garda Complaints System" and "Submission on the National Action Plan Against Racism" were available at the meeting.


A written report of the meeting of the Chairpersons and Chief Executives of the Joint Equality and Human Rights Forum, held in Belfast on 29 November 2002 and attended by the President and Chief Executive, was circulated.


Matters for Mention by the President


The President reported that, on 19 December 2002, the Commission made a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights concerning the European Convention on Human Rights Bill, 2001. The Commission's delegation was composed of the President, the Chief Executive, William Binchy, Suzanne Egan and Michael Farrell; and its presentation was very well received.


It was agreed that the Commission, possibly together with the Law Society and the Bar Council, would draft a Bill based on its own proposals for the incorporation of the Convention into Irish law, and that the drafting be undertaken by William Binchy in co-operation with the Chief Executive.

The President further reported that the Commission had received two Bills from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform under section 8(b) of the Human Rights Commission Act, 2000: the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill, 2002 and the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill, 2002.

The President also informed the meeting that the National Disability Authority had requested the Commission to nominate a representative to a Sub-Committee on Rights, Responsibilities and Partnership set up in connection with the European Year for Persons with Disabilities. Any Commissioner interested in serving as the Commission's representative was asked to contact the President.

The President said that he had contacted the Higher Education Authority concerning the application of foreign student fee scales to asylum-seekers who have completed their secondary education in Irish schools. He was informed by the HEA that this was a matter for each individual institution concerned, and had requested further information in this connection from the REA.

The Chief Executive presented her written report.














The President reported that Nuala Kelly and he had attended the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) Conference held on 14 December 2002. The office was asked to contact the IPRT to request a copy of the speech delivered by Mary Robinson.

It was agreed to include this item as a standard item on the agenda.

Draft Plan for 2003-2006

Discussions on this item of the agenda were chaired by Katherine Zappone, convenor of the Committee on Approach to Work.

It was noted that the latest version of the Draft Plan had been circulated in advance of the meeting. It was further noted that only those sections of the text marked in bold and italics were up for discussion at the meeting. The remainder of the text had been agreed at previous meetings of the Commission.

Amendments to the text of the Draft Plan were agreed. The amendments will be included in a final version of the Plan to be compiled by Katherine Zappone in consultation with the Chief Executive.

Subject to these amendments and to design and editing, the Plan was adopted by the Commission, with one Commissioner, Jane Liddy, dissenting.

It was agreed that Katherine Zappone would prepare for the publication of the Plan in consultation with the Chief Executive.

Katherine Zappone was authorised to engage someone for the purpose of editing the Plan and a consultant in respect of the consultation process on the Plan. Commissioners were invited to forward to her suggestions as to whom might be engaged.

The President and members of the Commission thanked Katherine Zappone for all her work on the preparation of the Plan.

Reports from Committees


Advisory Group on the Treatment of Older Persons in Institutions

The report prepared by Ita Mangan and a note from the convenor of the Advisory Group, lane Liddy, were circulated.










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Committee on Racism


A proposal concerning the terms of reference and membership of the Committee will be submitted to the next meeting of the Commission.


The meeting was informed that a compendium of submissions received by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and a summary of the outcomes of the consultation seminars concerning the National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR) had been prepared by the Department.


It was noted that a further meeting of the Steering Committee on the NAP AR will be held in January 2003.


Reports on Meetings and Conferences


Meeting of the Joint Equality and Human Rights Forum, Belfast, 29 November 2002.

A written note of the meeting prepared by the Chief Executive was circulated.


Seminar on "Rights in Action - ITom the global to the local", Carrickdale Hotel, Co. Louth, 5 December 2002.

A written note on the seminar prepared by Nuala Kelly was circulated.

UN Committee on CEDA W

The written proposal prepared by Katherine Zappone was approved in principle.

Use of the Irish Language

This item was deferred to the next meeting of the Commission.

The Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families

Consideration of a proposal by Nuala Kelly was deferred to the next meeting of the Commission.

It was agreed that the Commission would support a statement by ICTU calling on Ireland to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.

It was agreed that the Advisory Group should consider the report prepared by Ms Mangan and proposals for follow-up work.


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Relations with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission


A paper on the Joint Committee prepared by the President was circulated. The President indicated that he had spoken to the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission in this connection and that proposals concerning the work of the Joint Committee would be brought to the next meeting of the Joint Committee.


It was noted that a joint UCD / Queen's University Belfast research project concerning the Joint Committee will be undertaken by Suzanne Egan and Stephen Livingstone. The research project has been awarded funding from the Irish Research Council, and the research will be carried out from September 2003 to September 2004.


Consultation Process on a New Disability Bill


It was noted that the National Disability Authority will publish a second consultation document on 23 January 2003. Gerard Quinn undertook to prepare a draft submission on behalf of the Commission.

Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No 2) Act, 2002

An executive summary to the report entitled "The Criminal Trespass Legislation: A Response by the Human Rights Commission" was circulated; and it was agreed to publish the summary accompanied by a press launch.

It was agreed that the text of the summary would be amended to include references to the rights of the settled community.

Training for Commissioners

It was agreed that the proposal for the training of Commissioners would be considered at the next meeting of the Commission.

Website Domain Name

A proposal by Sophie Magennis for the purchase by the Commission of a website domain name was referred to the Committee on the Website, Logo and Computer Network.

Items for Inclusion on the Agenda of the Next Meeting (22nd Meeting)

It was agreed that the following items, in addition to regular items, would be included on the agenda of the next meeting:

. Training

. Use of the Irish language