Irish Human Rights Commission
The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) is a public body, state-funded but independent of government, that promotes and protects human rights in the Republic of Ireland. It was established in 2000 by an Act of the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament). As one of the two national human rights institutions (NHRIs) on the island of Ireland, like the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) its creation was a consequence of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement of 10 April 1998. It is required to maintain a joint committee with the NIHRC to consider human rights issues affecting both jurisdictions, such as a possible Charter of Rights for the Island of Ireland.
The IHRC has a full-time president and 14 other part-time commissioners, who serve for five-year terms. The first president was Mr Justice Donal Barrington, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland, who was succeeded in August 2002 by former Fine Gael senator Dr Maurice Manning.
The functions of the IHRC include advising on the compatibility of legislation with the rights protected by the Constitution of Ireland and by international treaties to which the state is party. It also engages in human rights education and conducts inquiries into alleged violations of human rights.
The IHRC is one of some 70 NHRIs accredited by the International Co-ordinating Committee of NHRIs, a body sponsored by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The IHRC's "A status" accreditation allows it special access to the United Nations human rights system, including speaking rights at the Human Rights Council and other committees. The Commission has presented parallel reports ("shadow reports") to several UN treaty committees examining Ireland's compliance with international human rights instruments. The IHRC has since 2006 chaired the European Group of NHRIs, one of four regional sub-groups of NHRIs, and consequently sits on the Bureau of the ICC.