Human rights commissions must be strong and well funded - President Higgins

Remarks come amid debate on new body

National Human Rights Commissions must be strong, independent and properly resourced to pursue their important work, President Michael D Higgins has said.

Mr Higgins's remarks come amid concerns over the funding of the State's new combined human rights and equality watchdog. In May, members of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, which will replace two organisations, told a Dáil committee the new body would need sufficient resources and staffing in order to properly take on its wide range of functions.

In an address at the Law Society in Dublin last night, Mr Higgins referred to the valuable role of such organisations in holding public bodies accountable for their positive duties. His observation was part of a wider reflection on the role of the courts in vindicating socio-economic rights such as the right to education, housing or health.

In his address, Mr Higgins cited at length from the work of Oxford law professor Sandra Fredman, who has argued that the assumption of clear-cut distinctions between socio-economic rights and civil and political rights is an ill-grounded one.

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic

Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is the Editor of The Irish Times