The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has made a number of recommendations to ensure human rights are upheld in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Last Friday, the IHREC met as part of its ongoing consideration of the human rights and equality implications of the Covid-19 crisis.

Arising from its deliberations, the commission made recommendations and said it intends to pursue some matters.

The commission considers that more information is required to assess whether new powers under emergency legislation introduced in response to Covid-19 are being exercised proportionately, and whether they are being implemented in line with human rights and equality principles.

The independent body plans to contact Garda Commissioner Drew Harris for detailed data to consider how the implementation of the legislation is impacting people in different sectors of society.

It has also called for parliamentary oversight of the implementation of emergency legislation introduced in response to Covid-19. Failing that, it has called on an Oireachtas Committee to examine this.

In line with its mandate to keep law and practice as they relate to human rights and equality under review, the IHREC will keep the exercise of emergency legislation and other State responses to the Covid-19 crisis under active review.

Following the commission's meeting on Friday, Acting Chief Commissioner Tony Geoghegan said that the Covid-19 crisis has impacted some members of our society more acutely than others.

"As we move into a phase where we are going to be living with the threat of this virus for some time, it is critical that the principle of equality and the dignity afforded by human rights are central to efforts to keep people safe and healthy," he added.


Read:
Latest coronavirus stories


Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Geoghegan said we are unchartered waters and exceptional restrictions have been placed on liberty and freedom of movement.

He said it is important that these restrictions are questioned and that they are monitored robustly to ensure that equity is maintained, especially as it is clear that this situation is going to continue for some time.

Mr Geoghegan told the programme that in order to maintain compliance, there must be trust in gardaí and transparency is needed to maintain this trust - for example, using data to demonstrate that powers are not being used to target particular groups.

He said that the IHREC has confidence in the policing authority but parliamentary oversight is very important and he called for the establishment of an Oireachtas Human Rights Committee.