Ireland has been criticised in a Council of Europe report for failing to guarantee the right of access to healthcare.

In the report, covering the years 2012 to 2015, Ireland is also censured for lacking an adequate coordinated approach to combating poverty.

It is also criticised for maintaining austerity-era cuts to social security entitlements, despite the onset of economic recovery.

The report, by the 47-nation Council's European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR), follows last year's assessment of 33 states regarding their conformity with the European Social Charter's requirements on health, social security and social protection services.

It shows there were violations in 36% of the cases examined and conformity in almost 47%.

The remainder of the cases were deferred because of a lack of information.

At 28%, Ireland's rate of conformity is well below the overall average.

It met the charter's requirements in just five of the 18 cases examined.

A further case was deferred after the ECSR requested further information.

According to the council's spokesman, Ireland is failing to conform to its international legal obligations under the charter on a number of grounds.

The report cites the following examples:

  • There is no adequate overall and coordinated approach to combating poverty and social exclusion
  • It has not been established that the right of access to healthcare is guaranteed in practice
  • It has not been established that there is an effective and equal access to social services
  • It has not been established that the quality of social welfare services meets users' needs
  • The level of social assistance provided to a single person without resources is not adequate
  • On account of the restrictions introduced to the social security system during the reference period (1 January 2012 to 31 December 2015), as well as the fact that some of these restrictions were maintained even after the economic situation had improved.

The European Social Charter is a legally-binding economic and social counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights, a revised version of which Ireland ratified in 2000.

The ECSR is responsible for assessing member states' compliance with the charter.

The committee publishes yearly conclusions focusing on different aspects of the text.