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FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights organisation which exists to promote equal access to justice for all. We recognise that human rights are fundamental to everyone and permeate all areas of law and one of our key aims is to advance international and national standards that promote human rights. The Irish State signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1989 and is now due to undergo its third examination by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in June 2015. It is with this important event in mind that FLAC coordinated a Shadow or Parallel Report on how the State is meeting its obligations under the Covenant.

In compiling this report, FLAC consulted with other civil society organisations and interested individuals. This Parallel Report represents a range of issues which FLAC believes have not been adequately covered by the Irish State Report. It covers the period from 2002 to mid-September 2014 and examines issues arising under each of the different Covenant Articles where relevant. While this report endeavours to provide the Committee with as much evidence and detail as possible, the lack of available disaggregated data in a number of areas is apparent and means that a complete overview is not possible.

In May 2014, FLAC held a series of consultations in Dublin, Cork and Galway to determine the key issues arising on the ground in relation to the rights protected under the Covenant. These included two thematic consultations on the right to social security (Article 9) and the right to housing (Article 11). Twenty-three civil society organisations made initial written submissions to FLAC which informed a draft report which was circulated to a wide range of civil society organisations for comment. A final consultation was held in Dublin on 15 September 2014 with 27 representatives from 21 organisations. More than 20 organisations submitted additional information and feedback to be included in the final report.

FLAC is grateful to our advisory group comprising experts who provided advice and guidance throughout the compilation process: Professor Gerry Whyte, Trinity College Dublin (chair); Mike Allen, Focus Ireland; Michael Farrell, FLAC; Dr Eilionóir Flynn, Centre for Disability Law & Policy, NUI Galway; Dr Aoife Nolan, University of Nottingham; Brian Ruane, Centre for Human Rights and Citizenship Education,St Patrick’s College Drumcondra; Dr Liam Thornton, University College Dublin. Our sincere thanks go also to the Children’s Rights Alliance which was commissioned to conduct the report research, led by Project Manager Saoirse Brady and assisted by Ciaran Finlay.

On behalf of those who contributed to and supported this report and on our own part, FLAC submits this Parallel Report to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.