About the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Who we are?

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body. We are an independent public body appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas.

When were we established?

IHREC was set up on 1 November 2014 under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.

Our purpose

The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

What we do

The Commission protects human rights and equality generally, and as set out in the Constitution, national human rights and equality legislation, the European Convention on Human Rights, European Union law, and the many international treaties and conventions that Ireland has committed to respect, protect and fulfil.

How we do it

Our specific functions include:

  • Giving information to the public on human rights and equality
  • Giving practical help, including legal assistance to people to defend their rights
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of human rights and equality law, policy and practice in the State
  • Applying to the High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court for permission to appear as amicus curiae or “friend of the court” in cases that deal with someone’s equality or human rights.
  • Helping public bodies to perform their functions in a way that eliminates discrimination and promotes equality of opportunity.
  • Helping public bodies to perform their functions in a way that protects the human rights of staff and the public to whom the public body provides a service.
  • Supporting programmes of activities and projects that promote integration of migrants and other minorities, equality (including gender equality), and respect for diversity and cultural difference.
  • Carrying out research and supporting research activities.
  • Providing, or helping to provide, education and training on human rights and equality.

The Commission’s work is determined independently by the fifteen members of the Commission who are appointed by our Head of State, President Michael D. Higgins. The diverse membership of the Commission broadly reflects the nature of Irish society.

Our current Chief Commissioner is Sinéad Gibney.

For further information on the Commission’s work please visit www.ihrec.ie