Amnesty International Report 2005 - Ireland

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 25 May 2005
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2005 - Ireland , 25 May 2005, available at: [accessed 16 November 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Covering events from January - December 2004

Allegations persisted of ill-treatment by police officers, and such allegations were not investigated impartially. Concerns about the system for reporting, recording and prosecuting racist crimes continued. Conditions in psychiatric and other institutions for mentally disabled people remained unsatisfactory. Concerns were expressed about inadequate asylum-seeking procedures and discrimination against migrant workers. Provisions to protect women escaping violence in the family were insufficient.


The European Committee of Social Rights issued its conclusions on Ireland's first report, finding 12 cases of non-conformity and requesting further information on nine cases.

The Ombudsman for Children began to investigate complaints against some public institutions.

Treatment of people with disabilities

The report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals, published in September, criticized seriously unsatisfactory conditions for the care and treatment of patients in psychiatric hospitals, as well as gaps in provision for specific groups of vulnerable persons.

The severe shortage in psychiatric services for young people resulted in children being detained in adult psychiatric hospitals.

A National Disability Strategy was published in September. This included the Disability Bill 2004, which, despite prior government pledges, was not human rights-based, and did not adequately provide for the progressive realization of economic and social rights of people with disabilities. The Strategy and Bill were criticized by disability groups.


Allegations continued to be made of ill-treatment and other serious misconduct by members of the Garda Síochána (police force), which were not adequately investigated by the Garda Complaints Board.

The Tribunal of Inquiry (the Morris Tribunal) into complaints against Garda officers in the Donegal Division issued its first report in July. The tribunal found culpability ranging from instances of negligence to two officers corruptly orchestrating the planting of ammunition and hoax explosives. It made recommendations for improved management, recording of incidents, an urgent review of policy on the handling of informants, and greater accountability.

Seven Garda officers were tried in connection with allegations of excessive use of force during a demonstration in Dublin in May 2002. Six were acquitted and the seventh was convicted of assaulting a teacher.

The Garda Síochána Bill 2004 was published in February, setting out for the first time in statutory form the functions of a police service. It also provided for the creation of an independent Garda Ombudsman Commission to deal with complaints, with powers of investigation, arrest and detention of Garda officers. The Irish Human Rights Commission voiced concern about certain provisions of the Bill. Its recommendations included: all interviews with suspects should be video-recorded; the Ombudsman Commission should have the right to inspect any Garda station; and all investigations, except the most minor, should be conducted by the Commission.

Places of detention

Detention conditions did not comply with international standards: many prisons were overcrowded, lacked adequate sanitation facilities and had insufficient education and employment programmes. People facing deportation were detained in prisons, rather than in special detention centres. Mentally ill prisoners continued to be held in padded cells in ordinary prisons rather than in specialized institutions.

The authorities failed to establish an independent and impartial individual complaints mechanism for prisoners, as recommended by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Asylum-seekers and migrants

The Immigration Act 2004 was fundamentally flawed in its lack of respect for internationally recognized human rights. There was no independent human rights monitoring of immigration controls at ports of entry.

Concern heightened throughout 2004 about the status and entitlement of migrant workers, including their rights to family reunion, and to be provided with a means of appeal against a deportation order.

The 27th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, removing the constitutional guarantee of citizenship for people born in Ireland who do not have a parent with Irish citizenship.

Family members of children with Irish citizenship, who were not themselves Irish nationals, faced the retrospective application of changed government policy to deny them automatic residency. Such families were not entitled to legal aid when applying to remain on humanitarian grounds. According to official figures, by October, 32 parents of Irish children had been deported, and another 352 had been issued with deportation orders. Concern remained that the best interests of the child were not sufficiently being taken into account in deportation decisions. In October a decision by the European Court of Justice confirmed the rights of children who are citizens of the European Union (EU) to the care and company of their parents in the EU. In December, the government announced revised arrangements for processing claims from the non-national parents of Irish children born before 1 January 2005.

Racism and equality

There were inordinate delays in developing the National Action Plan against Racism. According to the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, there was an increase in the number of racially motivated incidents in the aftermath of a citizenship referendum in June. A number of human rights and Traveller groups condemned the erosion of travellers' rights and heavy-handed policing methods used in relation to Travellers. Concerns about the inadequacy of the system for reporting, recording and prosecuting racist crimes persisted.

The Equality Act 2004, ostensibly enacted to comply with EU Directives on equal treatment in relation to race, employment and gender, inadequately implemented the Directives' requirements, and undermined existing non-discrimination provisions. Of particular concern were provisions for differential treatment of non-EU nationals in access to education and to a number of state services, discrimination on the basis of nationality in the area of immigration and residency, and the continuing failure of the government to introduce a statutory duty on public authorities to ensure greater equality.

Violence against women

Voluntary organizations supporting victims of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and trafficking for sexual exploitation reported that they were seriously hampered by inadequate funding. There was also concern at the shortage of shelters for women and children leaving abusive situations, and at the vulnerability of immigrant women whose legal status prevented them from seeking help.

The only conviction for marital rape secured in Ireland was overturned in October.

Arms trade

In May, the government published a review of Ireland's export control system for military and dual-use goods. It subsequently committed itself to introducing new legislation which would include controls on arms brokering and the submission of an annual report to the Oireachtas (Irish parliament). There were gaps in the proposed legislative framework.

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