COVID-19 Discrimination Survey and Submission to Government on Review of the Equality Acts and Request to Lobby TD’s with regard to the Extension of the Health and Criminal Justice (Covid-19) (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2021

In July 2021, the Government launched a Consultation, seeking the public’s views on a review of the Equality Acts (Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 and the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015) (the “Acts”).

The purpose of this Consultation was to explore the possibility of adding new protected grounds to the Equality Acts, such as a socio-economic ground and gender identity.

The review also provided an opportunity to review other issues arising, including whether or not further additional equality grounds should be added, whether existing exemptions should be removed or modified.

The ICHR viewed this Consultation as an opportunity to lobby the Government to include a new protected ground of Health/Immunisation Status in the Equality Acts.

In order to evidence the level of suffering endured (and the effects of same) by members of the public as a direct result of the measures enacted by the Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICHR published a questionnaire asking members of the public to detail whether / the levels of discrimination they have suffered arising from issues such as face masks and / or vaccine passports.

The ICHR received in excess of 26,000 responses to its survey and submitted its submission to the Government on 8th December 2021 (the extended closing date for submissions).

The findings from the survey may be viewed here. 

One of the aims in publishing this survey was to use its findings to lobby the Government with regard to any future extension to legislation which has the effect of discriminating against members of the public.

As you may be aware on the 15th of December 2021, the Dail and Seanad passed the Health and Criminal Justice (Covid-19) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2021 – the purpose of this bill was to extend the period of application of certain emergency powers currently retained by the Government, namely:

  • Part 3 of the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020;
  • Criminal Justice (Enforcement Powers) (Covid-19) Act 2020;
  • Health (Amendment) Act 2020; and
  • Part 2 of the Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2021.

The Health and Criminal Justice (Covid-19) (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2021 provides that the four pieces of legislation mentioned above will continue in operation until the 31st of March 2022, with the possibility of a further extension of three months, by way of resolution in both Houses of the Oireachtas.

The purpose of this campaign is to ask you to use the findings from the ICHR survey to lobby the Government such that no further extension to the Health and Criminal Justice (Covid-19) (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2021 is passed.

Please find template letter that you may send to TD’s here and please also find TD contact information here

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