Examining impact of austerity on human rights

Sheehy Skeffington remembered


The impact of the global economic crisis on human rights in Ireland is the focus of international human rights law Professor Aoife Nolan’s keynote address to a conference in Dublin this weekend.

“Given the State has failed to ensure the most vulnerable in Irish society are protected to the greatest extent possible since the crisis, can the Government really be said to have lived up to its duties under human rights law?” Prof Nolan, of the University of Nottingham, asks.

Her address focuses on the relevance of human rights to contemporary issues and considers how Ireland’s human rights obligations can and should affect the distribution of resources in times of scarcity. It includes an analysis of how controversial budget cuts, including to carers’ allowances and child benefit, fail to accord with Ireland’s human rights obligations under the Constitution and international rights instruments.

Human rights school
Prof Nolan is speaking at the second Sheehy Skeffington Human Rights School in Liberty Hall on Saturday, April 20th.

According to one of the organisers Nuala Kelly, the school is a forum “to discuss, develop and promote human rights as a means of protecting human dignity, promoting equality and achieving a socially sustainable society”.

Marking the centenary of the 1913 Lockout, this year’s school is on the theme “1913-2013: Back to the Future?” In that context and continuing adherence to austerity policies, speakers will examine how best to protect and promote basic human rights, including to adequate healthcare and to organise.

Campaigning GP Dr Austin O’Carroll will argue health inequalities undermine human rights and democratic participation while John Douglas, ICTU vice-president, will focus on the role of the trade unions in organising for change.

Historian Dr Rosemary Cullen Owens will examine women activists in the “turbulent decade” of 1908-18 and writer and actor Donal O’Kelly will perform extracts from his new play Frank , about the last day of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, to be premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Francis Sheehy Skeffington and his wife Hanna were active campaigners for women’s suffrage and labour rights among many causes. A pacifist, Francis Sheehy Skeffington was shot dead in Easter Week 1916 after being taken hostage by a British officer as he tried to stop looting.

Admission to the school is free but booking is advisable.