“Hear Our Voices” Groups Tell Government
- Categorized in: Human Rights
Caption: Ms Michele Brandt speaking at the International Symposium on the Constitutional Convention - Thursday 21 June 2012
Caption: Senator Katherine Zappone speaking at the International Symposium on the Constitutional Convention - Thursday 21 June 2012
Press release: for immediate release
Thursday 21 June 2012
An international event held in Dublin today (21 June 2012) has heard calls for the Government to listen to the voices of civil society before it finalises its proposals for the forthcoming Constitutional Convention.
The event, “Hear Our Voices” is part of an initiative by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) to ensure that the Government will not continue to ignore the views of civil society about constitutional reform.
Keynote speaker and international expert on constitutional reform Ms Michele Brandt said:
“There is much to be learned from the recent experience of other states that have undertaken constitutional reform. From Afghanistan to South Africa, Iceland to Timor-Leste, experience demonstrates the need to promote public participation, meaningful representation and inclusion, particularly among vulnerable people on the margins of society. An open and transparent process is needed to foster genuine national ownership of the Convention. If a government does not act to generate such ownership, it can sow the seeds of public discontent.”
“This can manifest itself in the establishment of “shadow” or rival consultation processes; the emergence of fringe groups intent on capitalising on a constitutional moment to push their own agendas; public disengagement; boycott and ultimately rejection of proposals for reform. The result can be disconnect, discontent and ultimately disaffection among stakeholders, including among those most immediately engaged in, and committed to, the process at the outset” Ms Brandt added.
ICCL Director Mark Kelly said:
“Ireland’s Constitution is rightly celebrated at home and abroad for its recognition of the centrality of human rights and fundamental freedoms; however, 75 years after it was first drafted, it is long overdue for an overhaul. The Constitutional Convention holds out the promise of reform, but that potential will only be realised if the voices of civil society are accorded a meaningful place in the forthcoming discussions. A process that excludes civil society, as has been the case to date, has no future”.
Other speakers at the event included independent Senator Katherine Zappone, renowned author on the Irish Constitution Prof Gerard Whyte of Trinity College Dublin and recent critic of the Government’s proposals Dr Conor O’Mahony, lecturer in constitutional law at UCC.
Print, online and broadcast media are invited to attend. Keynote Speaker Michele Brandt will be available for press and broadcast interview.
For more information, and to arrange interviews with participants, please contact:
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
9-13 Blackhall Place
Tel. + 353 1 799 4504
Mob: +353 87 9981574
NOTE TO EDITOR:
The Hear Our Voices event took place today, 21 June 2012 from 9.30am-1pm in Tailors Hall, Back Lane, Christchurch, Dublin 8.
A photocall with participants and including a neon ‘Hear our Voices’ logo was held from 11.15 during the event Coffee Break. Collins Photo will be filing photographs of the conference to photodesks.
The ICCL’s paper Developing a Model for Best Practice for Public Participation in Constitutional Reform, which examines the Government’s proposals for the Constitutional Convention in light of international best practice, is available HERE.
The Event was also live-streamed on the ICCL homepage www.iccl.ie – please contact the above number to request footage.
Professor Gerry Whyte
Gerry Whyte is an Associate Professor in Trinity Law School and a Fellow of Trinity College and Dean of Students. The author and co-author of books on public interest law, constitutional law and trade union law, he has also edited books on aspects of law and religion and Irish social welfare law and has published extensively in the areas of public interest law, constitutional law, social welfare law and labour law.
Dr Conor O’Mahony
Conor is a graduate of UCC (BCL 2001, LLM 2002, PGCTLHE 2009) and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth (PhD, 2005). He has lectured in constitutional law in UCC since 2005, and is currently the Director of Graduate Studies in the Faculty.
Senator Katherine Zappone
Katherine Zappone was appointed a Senator to Seanad Éireann in 2011 and has lectured on ethics, practical theology and education in Trinity College Dublin. She co-founded An Cosán - one of the largest community education and enterprise centres, located in Tallaght West and has worked in the public policy arena first as Chief Executive of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and more recently as a Director of The Centre for Progressive Change, Ltd. Katherine was appointed by the Minister for Justice in 2001 as a Commissioner with the Irish Human Rights Commission a position she held for 10 years.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER :
Ms Michele Brandt
Michele is a constitutional attorney and recently co-authored a handbook on the processes of constitution-making and reform. She is currently an independent consultant and advises on constitution-making processes, evaluates projects for constitutional assistance actors and is assisting the UN's Department of Political Affairs to enhance their capacity in the area of constitutional assistance. Michele was previously Director of Interpeace USA and founded and directed Interpeace’s Constitution-making for Peace Program, which developed tools and resources to improve constitution-making practice, organized 8 international workshops on key issues and provided technical assistance to both international organizations and national actors. Prior to this, Michele spent over a dozen years directly assisting processes in post-conflict contexts. She was the full-time constitutional advisor to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the Afghan Constitutional Commission. In Timor-Leste, Michele served with the United Nations Transitional Administration as a judicial affairs officer and was a member of the Transitional Judicial Service Commission as well as the Cabinet Legislative Committee and later directed the Asia Foundation’s Constitutional Development program. In Cambodia, Michele cofounded the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center and directed an eleven-office legal aid association. She has published numerous articles on human rights, capacity development, gender, peacebuilding, and the rule of law, including two studies on the UN’s constitutional assistance efforts.
FROM THE ICCL:
Mark Kelly is the Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Co-Chair of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO). He is an international human rights lawyer, and founder of the independent consultancy firm Human Rights Consultants (HRC). His clients have included the United Nations, the European Union and the Council of Europe, as well as a number of international and Irish non-governmental organisations. He has been retained as an expert adviser on human rights and training issues by both An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and has been a guest inspector for the Irish Inspectorate of Prisons and Places of Detention. Before founding HRC, he lived in Strasbourg for ten years, where he worked as Head of Unit in the Secretariat of the Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT).
Stephen O’Hare is Equality Officer with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). He recently authored a paper for the ICCL in response to the Government’s proposals for establishing the constitutional convention entitled Developing a Model of Best Practice for Public Participation in Constitutional Reform.
- The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is Ireland’s independent human rights watchdog, which monitors, educates and campaigns in order to secure full enjoyment of human rights for everyone. The ICCL is an entirely independent organisation and does not rely on government support or funding. Founded in 1976 by Mary Robinson and others, the ICCL has played a leading role in some of Ireland’s most successful human rights campaigns. These have included campaigns to establish an independent Garda Ombudsman Commission, legalise the right to divorce, secure more effective protection of children’s rights, decriminalise homosexuality and introduce enhanced equality legislation. Since 1976 the ICCL has tirelessly lobbied the State to ensure the full implementation in Ireland of international human rights standards and has campaigned for constitutional reform on a range of issues since its foundation.
- Hear Our Voices is an initiative of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Ireland’s independent human rights watchdog, working to ensure that the voices of civil society organisations will be heard in an effective way during the constitutional convention process. The ICCL is a non-party political, non-governmental organisation that receives no state funding.