A call for the recognition of socio-economic discrimination
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Press release - embargoed until 12pm Wednesday 18th September 2019

Equality and Anti-Poverty Activists Call
for Recognition of
Socio-Economic Discrimination

Senator Lynn Ruane launches a key community report at a time when Government examines
the potential impact of the Equality Private Bill
by Jim O'Callaghan TD and Fiona McLoughlin TD

Venue: Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Auditorium
16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7

Time: 10am to 1pm - 18th September 2019

The report, ''Does It Only Happen to Me? Living in the shadows of Socio-Economic Discrimination'' was launched this morning by Senator Lynn Ruane at an event prepared by All Together in Dignity Ireland.

The 19 recommendations from the report were discussed by academics, elected representatives, civil society organisations and people with direct experience of discrimination gathered in the Auditorium of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

The report calls on the Government and the Oireachtas to speed up the passage of the Private Members Bill introducing the recognition of a tenth ground of discrimination in the Irish Equal Status Act.

To date, Irish law does not protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of socio-economic status. The ''Does It Only Happen to Me?'' report documents a series of focus group discussions and individual interviews, and describes how socio-economic discrimination is a 24/7 experience which has very negative impacts on mental health and social inclusion of many people in disadvantaged communities.

Niall Crowley, former head of the Irish Equality Authority said: “‘Does it only happen to me?’ powerfully chronicles the damaging experience of daily lives persistently crashing up against stigma and stereotyping of socio-economic status. What is new and important in this report is the voices of those who are subjected to this abuse.”

Paul Ginnell, Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network Ireland and MC of the launch, stated that “Last year our members re-committed EAPN Ireland to the campaign to make socio-economic discrimination against the law. This is because it is not acceptable that someone can still be discriminated against because of their socio-economic status and the law offers them no protection. ''Does It Only Happen to Me?" makes it clear why this injustice must end now’.

The report was drafted by All Together in Dignity Ireland with support from the IHREC 2018 grant scheme. It discusses the need for staff in public services to be aware of the reality and the impacts of socio-economic discrimination. In the future, the implementation of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty could be an appropriate framework to prevent occurrences of this type of discrimination.

“We call on Public Sector Duty bearers to partner with service user groups to develop training and awareness raising programmes vis-à-vis discrimination based on socio economic status. These programmes could become mandatory for all Public Service Providers once the new ground becomes recognised”, said Pierre Klein, Coordinator of the ''Does It Only Happen to Me?'' project with ATD Ireland.


For further information, contact:

Pierre Klein, Project Coordinator, All Together in Dignity (ATD) Ireland – Phone: 089 228 60 65


Notes for the Editor:

A -The Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017 was brought before the Daíl on 27 June 2017 and later passed second stage to be brought to Committee Stage. The bill proposed to include “disadvantaged socio-economic status” as a new ground, defined as “a socially identifiable status of social or economic disadvantage resulting from poverty, level or source of income, homelessness, place of residence, or family background.” In 2018, the Government issued a money message in relation to the Bill, whereby Article 17.2 of the Constitution allows the Government to block passing of legislation that requires spending of public money. In communication with the Department of Justice and Equality, the Minister of State, David Stanton stated that a clear definition as to what is meant by socio-economic discrimination is essential to avoid introducing an ambiguous and wide-ranging definition of ‘disadvantaged socio-economic status’ into our equality legislation which would have unintended consequences. Later the Department of Justice and Equality tendered for a research project to develop the necessary evidence base on this issue and to create a more precise definition of any potential new equality ground, one that is easily understood by employers, service providers and businesses alike. This research has been earmarked to commence in September 2019, with a completion date of December 2019.

B - Running order of the event in IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Auditorium
16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 - 18th September 2019 10am to 1pm

     10.00 - Opening remarks - Paul Ginnell EAPN Ireland
     10.05 - Presentation of the report by members of ATD and SURIA group
     10.30 - Guest speakers:
         Judy Walsh (UCD) – Situation in Ireland
         Niall Crowley – International context
         Jim O'Callaghan TD – about the Private Bill
     11.00 - Q&A
     11.15 - Coffee break
     11.45 - Small group discussions - participants discuss the 19 recommendations of the report
     12.15 - Feedback from the groups and discussion with a panel of guests :
          Senator Lynn Ruane
          Damien Walshe ILMI/ERA
          Paul Uzell ATD
     12.45 - Formal launch of the report by Senator Lynn Ruane

C - Full report available here:

D - All Together in Dignity Ireland ( is member of ATD International which initiated the United Nations' Day for the Eradication of Poverty and was a key stakeholder in securing the adoption by the UN of:
- the 2012 Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights
- the 2015 Leave No One Behind Promise of the 2030 Agenda

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