Fitzgerald defends Ireland's human rights record at UN committee

Monday 14 July 2014 23.53
Frances Fitzgerald said her central priority is reform of policing
Frances Fitzgerald said her central priority is reform of policing

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has defended Ireland's redress scheme for survivors of symphysiotomy at the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.

Ms Fitzgerald and a delegation of Irish Civil Society Groups gave direct testimony to the committee. 

It was Ireland's fourth hearing before the committee.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Government is dealing with the "dreadful situation" faced by symphysiotomy survivors in Ireland, and defended the Government’s ex-gratia scheme.

She also addressed the Magadelene Laundries and told the hearing of significant recent developments in relation to abortion in Ireland.

She told the hearing that her central priority is reform of policing.

The minister will face further questioning tomorrow.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has welcomed Ms Fitzgerald's comments, but said action must now follow.

The council, in partnership with colleagues, submitted a detailed 'Shadow Report' of human rights issues in Ireland to the committee in advance of the hearings.

Earlier today, the Adoption Rights Alliance said it was disappointed and surprised not to have been included in the delegation at the UN's Human Rights Committee.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Alliance co-founder Susan Lohan said the Government failed to include any of its concerns in the State report.

Ms Lohan said the UN had written to the group to ask why the State had not mentioned any of its concerns.

She said: "We made a submission directly to the UN and they were just as astonished as we were, they actually wrote back to us and said why do you think the Irish state has not mentioned any of your concerns?

"We took part in the NGO process in the Department of Foreign Affairs, we thought we engaged perfectly well on that and we're really... I suppose we were disappointed but we shouldn't really have been shocked."