In our latest newsletter we bring you a round-up of what we achieved together in late 2019, with a particular focus on activism and protest.
We hosted two packed events during the period. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty Philip Alston spoke about the surveillance of people living in poverty, citing the Public Services Card as an example.
And David Carroll, the man who sued Cambridge Analytica, spoke on a panel of online activists to an audience of people working in the Dublin tech industry.
We finally saw some traction on the Public Services Card when the Data Protection Commissioner declared key functions of the card illegal. We’re now tantalisingly close to having the system abolished altogether.
We connected our campaign on gendered online harassment with the Quigley family’s campaign for Justice for Dara, with real results. We’re all indebted to Dara’s mother Aileen for her bravery in speaking out.
We stood strong against the introduction of garda bodycams. In the face of huge government and garda opposition, we maintained that the reported benefits far outweighed the definite infringements on our fundamental rights.
We were met with opposition from other quarters when we called for safe zones outside abortion providers. Similarly when we took a stance on hate speech. But we were also inundated with messages of support from our members, followers, and the general public. We’re very grateful for that.
It’s your support that keeps us going!
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4 February 2020
Four of the major parties contesting General Election 2020 have committed to ICCL’s 8 straightforward but crucial asks which would advance the cause of human rights in Ireland if implemented.
Sinn Féin, the Green Party, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit/Solidarity all committed to bringing in safe access zones; outlawing hate crime and image-based sexual abuse; abolishing the Public Services Card; ratifying the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture; establishing an Independent Police Ombudsman and an Ombudsman for Victims of Crime; and reforming the Electoral Act if elected.
At a press conference this morning Peter Kavanagh of the Green Party, Tara Deacy of the Social Democrats and People Before Profit’s Eoghan O Ceannabháin outlined their party’s commitments to ICCL’s 8 asks.
The Labour Party committed to six of the asks but could not promise to abolish the Public Services Card. It agreed with ICCL that government should comply with the findings of the Data Protection Commissioner. A spokesperson said the party was open to establishing an Ombudsman for Victims.
Fianna Fáil committed to five of the asks, but would not commit to bringing in safe access zones or abolishing the Public Services Card. A spokesperson said the party was open to keeping reform of the Electoral Act under review.
Fine Gael also committed to five of the asks. It would not commit to abolishing the Public Services Card. It would only commit to reviewing the Electoral Act in the context of establishing an Electoral Commission. Like Labour, the party remained “open” to exploring the possibility of establishing an Ombudsman for Victims.
ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick welcomed the commitments received:
“We warmly welcome the strong pledges by so many of our major parties to implement these important human rights commitments. Each of these 8 human rights asks will make a significant impact for the electorate and can be delivered within a short period. These party pledges are an important step towards delivery of change – but the crucial next step will be translating these promises into commitments in the Programme for Government. We, alongside our members and supporters, will continue to campaign on these issues until we see them delivered.”
Many of ICCL’s 8 asks have already been recommended by expert bodies such as the Commission on the Future of Policing (a new Police Ombudsman) or indeed are required under law by EU directives (an Ombudsman for the Victims of Crime). ICCL has been running a public campaign on all 8 asks. 3,419 emails have been sent to candidates by our members and supporters across all constituencies at the time of going to press.
Watch the press conference at this link.
ICCL members also attended the press conference and posed questions to the candidates. You can join ICCL here: iccl.ie/join.
Notes for editors:
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s leading independent human rights campaigning organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign to secure human rights for everyone in Ireland.
Find ICCL’s 8 asks here: https://www.iccl.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ICCL-MANIFESTO.pdf
Find the public campaign here: https://www.iccl.ie/ge2020-take-action-for-change/
For comment: Liam Herrick firstname.lastname@example.org
For media queries: email@example.com 087 4157162
Dublin, 16 May 2019
Read our full annual report by following this link.
ICCL had a busy year in 2018, not least because of our campaigns in two seminal referendums – the referendum to repeal the 8th, and the referendum to remove blasphemy from the Constitution. You can read about these campaigns on p15 and p21.
In order to comply with referendum rules, we used our membership fees to fund both. We quite literally could not have done it without our members and we are very grateful indeed for their continued support. You can join ICCL here: iccl.ie/join
Outside of the referendums, we ran a number of other important campaigns.
We made significant progress in our 40+-year quest for garda reform with the publication of the Kilpatrick report. The Commission on the Future of Policing echoed many of the recommendations in our report, and we continue to closely monitor implementation of same in 2019. Read more on p12.
ICCL made a significant contribution to the struggle for justice for survivors of institutional abuse. We called for a full exhumation at Tuam, as well as the immediate ratification of the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances. We also made a submission to the Department of Health on their proposed deprivation of liberty legislation. Read more on p14.
We were proud to be able to support both protesters and artists as they clamoured for human rights and were met with a heavy-handed state response. Our campaign to protect activism and civil society has become a cornerstone of our policy in 2019. Read more on p19.
ICCL commissioned Garreth Joyce to paint a mural for REPEAL (above) in solidarity with Project Arts Centre when the Charities Regulator order they take down Maser’s iconic Repeal mural.
Your Privacy Rights
Ireland is now a global technology hub and with advances on that front come serious threats to our rights. Read all about our programme of work on privacy and surveillance from p22.
Want to support this vital work and more? iccl.ie/donate
Dublin, 3 March 2019
Danish film Heartbound: A Different Kind of Love Story has won the Irish Council for Civil Liberties’ 2019 Human Rights in Film Award. The jury also gave Special Commendation to Mannix Flynn’s Land Without God. The award was presented by activist Eileen Flynn at an intimate ceremony in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel today.
Directors Janus Metz and Sine Plambach said:
“Heartbound” is the result of a 10 year collaboration with the participants in the film. So we share this award with them and bring you the best wishes from Sommai, Mong, Kae, Niels and all the others too. With great generosity and courage they have shared some of the most intimate moments of their lives with us, hoping that we can all learn from their stories and reflect on the world we share.
Watch a trailer for the film by clicking here.
Eileen Flynn, who is a prominent advocate of Traveller and women’s rights, said:
Film is a powerful way to inspire people to action on contemporary human rights issues. The nominees for this award raised issues from institutional abuse in Ireland, terrorism, female genital mutilation, homelessness, suicide and LGBTI rights. Heartbound, shot over ten years in Denmark, allowed the audience to connect with the human stories behind economic migration, sex work and arranged marriages.
Ms Flynn continued:
I am also delighted to see Mannix Flynn’s Land Without God receive special commendation. The jury felt it was an important film for Ireland and our continuing struggle to come to terms with institutional abuse.
ICCL director Liam Herrick said:
Film is an extremely important vehicle for raising issues that we face as a society today. This award celebrates films which not only raise these issues but which allow audiences to engage with them and to think about how they can make a difference in real life. Heartbound is a film which challenges how we think about sex work and economic migration.
At ICCL we are also happy to see Land Without God receive a special mention as we continue to fight for justice for survivors of institutional abuse. So often termed historic, as long as the truth continues to be hidden, these abuses are anything but.
The adjudication panel, which deliberated for two hours on 2 March, also attended the ceremony. They included: actor, poet and playwright Emmet Kirwan; award-winning journalist Sorcha Pollak; direct provision activist Bulelani Mfaco; film director Aoife Kelleher; and disability rights advocate and ICCL board member Suzy Byrne.
This is the first year the ICCL human rights film award has been presented since 2016. For years ICCL has celebrated the importance of the arts and especially film in raising consciousness of human rights.
Notes for editors:
The nominees for this award were:
* A Girl From Mogadishu by Mary McGuckian: Based on the testimony of Ifrah Ahmed the film details Ifrah’s astonishing and powerful journey, from her time in a refugee camp to becoming a leading campaigner.
* Another Day of Life by Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow: A film which centres on an idealistic journalist tasked with covering civil conflict in Angola in the 1970s.
* Gaza by Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell: A documentary portrait of the resilience of people in the most challenging of circumstances, set among the communities who live in Gaza.
* Heartbound: A Different Kind of Love Story by Janus Metz and Dr Sine Plambech: A documentary about a small village in northern Denmark where over 900 Thai women have married and settled.
* Land Without God by Gerard Mannix Flynn: His deeply personal documentary feature about himself and members of his own family as they recall the effects of decades of institutional abuse.
* Of Fathers and Sons by Talal Derki: A documentary which centres on a radical Islamist family and their harsh existence as war rages around them in Syria.
* Rafiki by Wanuri Kahiu: A Kenyan film that revolves around two female friends who fall in love. In doing so, they must face the challenges of family expectations and the conservative society in which they live.
* The Public by Emilio Estevez: A film about a committed librarian, frustrated at a lack of social justice, allows some of his most vulnerable visitors turn his work space into an impromptu homeless shelter.
For comment: Liam Herrick: firstname.lastname@example.org 087 2351374
For media queries: Sinéad Nolan: email@example.com 087 4157162
From victory for free speech in the blasphemy referendum, to the Guard Our Rights campaign for police reform, mass protests and mass surveillance, it’s been another busy semester for ICCL!
Read all about it in Rights News for Autumn Winter 2018/9: Rights News AW18-9
Where: Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin 8
When: 18 July, 18:30 (following ICCL AGM)
With two months to go until the Commission on the Future of Policing reports, ICCL is convening a discussion between social justice experts and activists who have hands-on experience of Garda interaction with children in the criminal justice and care systems, with young people in Dublin’s Inner City, and with the Traveller community.
- Gareth Noble is a partner at KOD Lyons solicitors, working primarily in the areas of children’s law, disability law and human rights.
- Fiona Whelan is the artist behind “Policing Dialogues” (2010), which aimed to change Garda culture and practice particularly regarding ‘stop and search’ of young people in Dublin’s Inner City.
- David Joyce is a solicitor and Travellers’ rights advocate, who will discuss policy (or lack thereof) on issues such as hate crime, as well as discrimination against the Traveller community by Gardaí
Responding to these experiences and speakers will be Alyson Kilpatrick BL. Alyson was the Human Rights Advisor to the Northern Ireland Policing Board from 2009 – 2017 and has a wealth of knowledge of how a human rights-based approach can change the culture, practices and outcomes of policing even after decades of confrontation and distrust. In February 2018 ICCL commissioned Alyson to undertake research on how a human rights-based approach to policing could be achieved in Ireland, with a grant from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission aimed at improving implementation of the Public Sector Human Rights and Equality Duty.
A key aspect of this rights-based approach is providing equal protection and respect for the rights of all individuals and communities with whom the police interact. A human rights-based approach also requires the police service to respond to the particular needs and experiences of individuals and groups who are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, poverty, crime, and other forms of disadvantage.
The aim of this event is to tease out, in practical terms, what difference a human rights-based approach to policing could make to members of communities that have particular experiences with An Garda Síochána. Please come along for the debate.
ICCL’s work in the area of garda reform is supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland through its donor-advised grant scheme.
The overwhelming vote of the Irish people on 25 May to repeal the 8th Amendment was a watershed moment for human rights and equality in Ireland. Many of the ICCL membership have played key roles in the long battle against the 8th over the past 35 years. The members and supporters of ICCL also played an important part in ICCL’s work on this issue. ICCL membership fees support our political work, including when we take a position on a referendum question. Below we set out the specific activities which we have undertaken to contribute to this historic moment.
ICCL’s history of campaigning for reproductive rights
The ICCL opposed the 8th Amendment to the Constitution in 1983 on the grounds that it would cause confusion and be unworkable in practice, and that it would not prevent women living in Ireland from needing and seeking abortions. In 1992 the ICCL opposed the referendum proposal to prohibit abortion where a woman’s life was at risk by suicide, and supported the constitutional amendments that guaranteed the freedom to travel and the freedom to impart and obtain information about abortion services abroad. The ICCL published a detailed policy paper in 2001 arguing against a further proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion in cases of suicide risk. The paper criticised the government’s failure to address honestly the needs of the thousands of women who travelled abroad each year for abortion and the discrimination suffered by women and girls who were unable to travel.
In recent years the ICCL has made submissions to the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the UN Committee Against Torture calling for the repeal of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution, the decriminalisation of abortion, and the introduction of legislation providing for access to abortion in Ireland. The ICCL’s submission to the Citizens’ Assembly in 2016 is available here.
We published a position paper on the 8th Amendment in 2017.
The International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO)
ICCL was a founder member of INCLO in 2013 and one of the pillar areas of work of the Network is Religious Freedom and Equal Treatment. Under that pillar, INCLO has taken a particular interest in the issue of abortion rights and ICCL hosted and international convening on abortion rights in Dublin in November 2017. The timing of the event allowed a platform for international activists and experts to share their experiences and perspectives in advance of the final report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the 8th Amendment. Our international colleagues also had the opportunity to meet with leading Irish activists and members of the Oireachtas during the event. For details of the event see here.
ICCL and the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth
ICCL was a founder member of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth in 2015 and provided logistical support to the Coalition in its early phases. We have played an active part in the Coalition’s work at all stages. In February 2018, as the Government committed to holding a referendum for repeal the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth joined with the National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Abortion Rights Campaign to form Together For Yes as the campaigning body for the referendum. Together for Yes was launched in March with ICCL as a member of its platform of civil society organisations. ICCL actively participated in the campaign platform and director Liam Herrick spoke at the Cork launch of Together for Yes.
Funding the Referendum Campaign
Once the proposition for the Referendum was published, the Executive of the ICCL Members Association registered as a Third Party for the period of the Referendum. In line with the requirements of the Electoral Acts, by registering as a Third Party which would campaign in the referendum, the ICCL Members Association was committing that only authorised donations could be used to fund any activities which were aimed at supporting a particular outcome in the referendum. Only ICCL members’ fees were used to fund our campaign activities – these being of an order of €40 per person and all from Irish citizens. By registering the ICCL Members Association as a Third Party (as ICCL has done in previous referendums), we separated our campaign activities from the other non-political work of ICCL, including our charitable work and our work which is funded by trusts and foundations.
The ICCL campaign
ICCL launched our own campaign Her Rights, which focused on the human rights impact of the referendum over the past 35 years. You can find details of the campaign here.
ICCL also joined with members of the legal professions and Lawyers for Choice to work with the sub-group Lawyers for Yes, which acted as the legal arm of the overall Together for Yes Campaign. Together with these groups, ICCL provided legal comment and analysis through the campaign. Liam Herrick provided comment at a press conference on 30 April and spoke at a briefing for members of the Oireachtas on 2 May.
In the final week of the campaign, ICCL hosted a multi-media public event at Smock Alley theatre, entitled Under the 8th, which recalled the history of the 8th from 1983 and celebrated the role of the key leading activists who have led the fight against the amendment – including Pauline Conroy, Justice Catherine McGuinness, Ivana Bacik, Catherine Forde and Máiréad Enright. Read more here.
During the course of the referendum, a number of issues emerged about restrictions on artistic freedom of expression, whereby visual artists and writers had events or works censored, restricted or cancelled due to their political content. ICCL led the resistance to these developments. We issued a policy paper on freedom of artistic and political expression and we publicly launched this paper by commissioning our own mural. We unveiled this mural a week before the Referendum, and leading members of the arts community, including poet Paula Meehan and Project Arts Centre’s Cian O’Brien, spoke at the invigorating event in Phibsboro. Read more here.
Work for the Future
In the aftermath of the result, ICCL is continuing to work with partner organisations, including the Irish Family Planning Association and the National Women’s Council, to ensure that the legislation is compliant with human rights standards. As we have done since our foundation, ICCL will continue to work for women’s rights including reproductive rights.
We will also shortly launch a project aimed at protecting and widening the space within which civil society can operate. This will aim, amongst other issues, at reform of the Electoral Acts of 2001, at protecting artistic and political freedom of expression during referendum periods, and at reform of the Charities Act so that it includes human rights work as a charitable purpose.