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January 2016
New ERA Campaign Coordinator

Rachel Mullen has moved on from ERA to take up a new role. Rachel’s passion, commitment and professionalism were huge assets for ERA and her legacy will have a long-standing impact. 

Damien Walshe has joined as Campaign Coordinator at the start of December. Damien has worked with the Irish Traveller Movement for over ten years in areas such as education, membership coordination and policy development and is looking forward to engaging with ERA members over the course of 2016.

Amendment to Section 37 (1) Employment Equality Act

An amendment was made to section 37(1) of the Employment Equality Act. This section of the act allowed certain religious, educational or medial institutions to take action to prevent employees or prospective employees from undermining their religious ethos. This lead to the  so-called ‘chilling factor’ whereby LGBT people in particular, have felt compelled to either avoid seeking employment or promotion in such institutions or to take up employment under conditions where they are forced to conceal their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The Equality and Rights Alliance made a submission to the Equality Authority in 2013 on proposed amendments to the act and called for section 37(1) to be removed.

The new amendment, which is restricted to publicly funded institutions,  still allows these bodies to take action to prevent employees or prospective employees from undermining their religious ethos but provides that action taken must be strictly related to the institution’s religious ethos; a response to conduct of a person rather than being a response to that person’s status under any of the other discrimination grounds (e.g. sexual orientation) set out in equality legislation; and proportionate to the conduct of the employee or prospective employee, having regard to alternative action the employer could take.

Speaking in the Seanad about the amendment, Minister for Equality Aodhan O Rioradain said “The aim is to raise the bar so that religious run schools and hospitals will have to show real damage to their ethos, are precluded from discrimination on any of the other equality grounds and that any action taken is reasonable and proportionate”.

However the failure to remove section 37(1) and that the restriction to publicly funded institutions will not remove the “chilling factor” or build a truly inclusive workplace where people are proud to celebrate their identity. A valuable opportunity to promote diversity has been missed

Read the Seanad debate on the amendment 
 Read the Equality and Rights Alliance submission to the Equality Authority on proposed amendments to the act 

Read more

Public Sector Duty- space for ERA members to discuss

Read the ERA publication “A New Public Sector Equality & Human Rights Duty

Read more
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, provides for the introduction of a public sector equality and human rights duty. ERA published an overview of Public Sector duty in March. At the ERA members meeting, there was an interest in members coming together to look at what role civil society groups could play in engaging with Public Bodies and IHREC to ensure that the potential impact of Public Sector Duty can be achieved.

If you are interested in being part of this group, email or phone 087 2858485. Once we know who is interested, a date for a meeting will be set and circulated via the next newsletter as well as via the ERA Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Equality and Rights Alliance
100 North King Street
Dublin, 7

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