Article 2(1) of the Covenant requires the State to take steps to progressively realise the rights enshrined within the Covenant within its maximum available resources. In its 2002 Concluding Observations on Ireland, the Committee expressed concern that the Covenant had not been incorporated into domestic law.1 To date the Government has done very little to incorporate the Covenant into Irish law.
In February 2014, the Constitutional Convention, a forum was established by the Government to consider and make recommendations to the Houses of the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) on key constitutional issues. The Convention undertook the only substantial consideration of the inclusion of economic, social and cultural rights (ESC) in the Irish Constitution since the Committee’s last examination of the State.2 Overall, 85 per cent of the members of the Constitutional Convention voted in favour of incorporating ESC rights constitutionally, with 59 per cent favouring the option to insert a ‘provision that the State shall progressively realise ESC rights, subject to maximum available resources and that this duty is cognisable by the Courts’.3 The majority of members also favoured enumerating ‘rights contained in the International Covenant on ESC Rights’.4 The Convention’s recommendation is a welcome development in contrast to the 1996 Constitutional Review Group recommendation against the inclusion of a ‘personal right to freedom from poverty or of specific personal economic rights’ in the Constitution.5
Under the Convention’s terms of reference, the Government must consider and respond to its reports within four months of their publication. However, Government failed to respond to the ESC recommendation within the four-month timeline and has since indicated that it hopes to respond in autumn 2014.6
- 1 UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2002) Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Ireland, Geneva: OHCHR, p.2.
- 2 The Convention comprised an independent chairman with 100 members including 66 citizens drawn from the electoral register, 29 members of the Oireachtas and four members of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
- 3 The Convention on the Constitution (2014) Eighth Report of the Convention on the Constitution: Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) Rights, Dublin: Convention on the Constitution.
- 4 The Convention on the Constitution (2014) Eighth Report of the Convention on the Constitution: Economic, Social and Cultural (ESC) Rights, Dublin: Convention on the Constitution, p.6.
- 5 The Constitutional Review Group (1996) Report of the Constitutional Review Group, Dublin: Stationery Office, p.211.
- 6 Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, Parliamentary Questions: Written Answers, [27182/14], 24 June 2014.
Last Updated: 22/01/2015 ^ back to top