Dáil Éireann - Volume 631 - 20 February, 2007
Written Answers. - Equality Authority.
Mr. Neville Mr. Neville
Mr. Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on Amnesty International’s demand that the recommendations made by the Equality Authority in its 2005 report, Implementing Equality for Carers, should be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6169/07]
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
Mr. McDowell: Amnesty International’s Action Briefing on Mental Health Policy of October 2006 deals primarily with issues concerning mental health, which is a matter more appropriately addressed to the Minister for Health and Children.
One of the recommendations in Amnesty’s document is a call for the implementation of the recommendations made by the Equality Authority in its 2005 report, “Implementing Equality for Carers”. Of the recommendations made in the Equality Authority’s report, three are relevant to my Department. Recommendation 6.4 asks that government departments and state agencies should support and implement equality proofing of policies and programmes which should include a specific focus on carers, driven by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Equality Authority through the Equality Proofing Working Group. The Group, on which the Equality Authority is represented, is to examine the issue under its work programme.
Recommendations 6.6 and 6.7 ask for amendments to the current equality legislation.
Recommendation 6.6 asks for a review and change of the definition of carers under the family status ground in the equality legislation. The Equality Authority asks that a new definition should encompass the full diversity of carers, resident and non-resident and providing continuing  or intermittent care, and reflect and support models of shared caring alongside any focus on a primary carer.
Recommendation 6.7 asks for further development of the equality legislation to include a positive duty on the public sector to have due regard to equality. It also asks for the equality legislation to be extended to include a requirement on all employers and service providers
to make reasonable accommodation across all grounds, including carers, as is currently the situation with the disability ground;
to pursue a planned and systematic approach to promoting equality and combating discrimination, and
to give due consideration to the flexible working arrangements requested by employees who have caring responsibilities.
Equality legislation is kept under constant review by my Department. The specific issues raised in the report above by the Equality Authority and endorsed by Amnesty International are issues which would have to be addressed by the social partners. In this context I should point out that one of the key Government commitments in the national partnership agreement “Towards 2016” is the development of a National Carer’s Strategy. This strategy, which will focus on supporting informal and family carers in the community, will be developed by the end of 2007. All relevant Departments and agencies will be involved in the strategy and there will be appropriate consultation with the social partners.
Dáil Éireann 631 Written Answers. Equality Authority.