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Stepping Down over Backward Step

The gay community has just lost not just one of our most powerful supporters, but the Irish government has managed to make untenable that rare thing in the Western world – a public sector agency which works for ‘the little people’.

The resignation of Niall Crowley from The Equality Authority is incredibly sad but, you feel, ultimately not very surprising. Here is a principled man working for an agency which endeavours to protect the rights of minorities. In a country that seems to be chasing its financial tail, the rights of the few are forgotten in the panic of the many.

On RTE Radio this morning, Mr Crowley agreed that The Equality Authority was seen as “a pain in the neck” for the government as many of the cases it has on its books relate to descrimination in public sector bodies. He felt that the agency was a fly in the ointment greasing the economy.

A country is made up of more than just its economy. It’s made up of its people, diverse as they are, and this is something which, now more than ever, needs to be remembered. Inflation, deflation, credit crunches and recessions aren’t just catchphrases for economists, they directly affect people’s lives. It is now that the Dept of Justice needs to live up to its name and ensure we are as protected as ever in these uncertain times.

But will it make a difference? Will his resignation be the eye-opener the general public need? Let’s be honest, a government that steals money from over-70s and education from children isn’t going to care very much about people with disabilities, the Travelling Community, the lgbt community, people of colour and so on. It’s up to the public to care and make a difference as they showed they can in the case of medical cards of over-70s.

In a statement today, the Equality & Rights Alliance (ERA), a coalition of 71 civil society organisations, said that Crowley “had been forced into this position because of the budget actions which had effectively rendered the Equality Authority unviable”.

This is the government’s fault, make no mistake. Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Mark Kelly said Mr Crowley had taken “the only honourable course of action open to him” after the government but the Equality Authority’s budget by nearly half (43%) more than any other agency under the remit of the Dept of Justice.

The Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern said he makes no apologies for the funding cuts, saying that they needed the funds to bolster garda resources in tackling crime. In doing so, however, according to the chair of the ERA, Joanna McMinn, “The work of the Equality Authority has been fatally compromised.”

We need to gather and protest not the resignation of one man but the assassination of an agency created to protect “Equality in a Diverse Ireland”.

Irish Times Article

Irish Independent Article

Equality Authority website

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5 Comments

  • I read earlier today that the Dept of Justice’s claim that the cuts are to tackle crime are not backed up by the fact that other, non crime related departments, within that ministry have only had very small budget cuts, I beieve it said the next highest cut within that group was 9%
    If that is true Mr Ahern needs to think of a better excuse

    These cuts are a disgrace whatever way you look at it

    Carol said:
  • True, Carol – for years, I’ve heard (from current/former staff of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform – the pink mafia is far-reaching..!) that the primary focus of the Department is security – be that crime, removal of persons from the State, subversive organisations, etc. – and that they barely even pay lip-service to equality. The equality unit has long been neglected there, whether the background has been economic boom or bust.

    I don’t think the Minister is being honest with the electorate, concerning the cut-back proportions and/or the rationale for same.

    click here said:
  • People need to focus on individual rights, not group rights. Focussing on equal outcomes invariably leads to individual injustice as groups tend to perform differently. For instance, in Dan Seligman’s book ‘A Question of Intelligence’ he notes that East Asians tend to outperform whites on non-verbal elements in the tests (whether taken in the US, Asia, or the UK & also when adopted by non Asian families). So, expecting whites to be as represented in math/science professions per population seems unrealistic. Likewise, Ashkenazi Jews consistently score above average on psychometric tests. Not every group is going to be represented in the professions to the same extent. This is why insisting on equal outcomes rather than equal opportunity is beating up against human nature & evolution.

    http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2007/10/james-watson-tells-inconvenient-truth_296.php

    http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2008/01/no-scientific-basis-for-race.html

    Ben said:
  • Interesting to note the story in todays Irish Times

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2008/1215/1229035720264.html

    HAL – are you proposing the organisation of a protest?

    Ian said:
  • David Norris has alleged Ministerial Harrassment for raising this issue

    http://www.mamanpoulet.com/?p=549

    Ian said:
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