An equal society means recognising that many diverse groups and sections of Irish society – Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin TD and Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin today performed the official launch of a report entitled ‘An analysis of the introduction of socio-economic status as a discrimination ground’ in the Mansion House at the invitation of the Equality and Rights Alliance.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD (Cava-Monaghan) at the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 rising. Pictured also from L-R are Kathleen Funchion TD, Enya Kennedy, Cllr Seán Tyrell, all of Sinn Féin Kilkenny.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD (Cava-Monaghan) at the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 rising. Pictured also from L-R are Kathleen Funchion TD, Enya Kennedy, Cllr Seán Tyrell, all of Sinn Féin Kilkenny.

The report makes the case for the inclusion of socio-economic status under the Equal Status legislation.

Speaking during the course of his address, Deputy Ó Caoláin said: “As an Irish Republican, the issue of equality is at the core of all I believe in. I believe that all citizens are equal, regardless of the colour of their skin, their religious beliefs or none, their sexual orientation, their abilities or disabilities, their age, where they live or what they do.

“I believe that we all as children of our nation should be cherished equally. Unfortunately, 100 years since that very aspiration was proclaimed, this has not been achieved.

“We have witnessed and continue to see increases in inequality and poverty. Growing evidence highlights the disproportionate impact economic policies are having on disadvantaged groups. There is a glaring divide in Irish society between the haves and the have nots.  Those most impacted by the catastrophic impact of austerity policies remain the least well off.

“Low paid jobs, low hours employment, precarity and unemployment are all factors contributing to this stark inequality. Irish society remains an unequal place for women. Gender inequality contributes and results from economic inequalities. In Budget 2017, we saw the blatant discrimination against our younger jobseekers, those under 26 who only saw their allowance increase by €2.70 in comparison to those over 26 who saw it increase by €5. A blatantly discriminatory political choice.

“Creating the conditions for establishing an equal society means recognising that many diverse groups and sections of Irish society need enhanced protection from the State.

“The inclusion of the ground of socio-economic status in our equality legislation is absolutely essential. We need to ensure that both government and public bodies, in exercising their functions do so in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.

“The time has come for Ireland to take a stand and provide a more just and equitable society for all.”