Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Unit

The Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Unit, led by Seamus Beirne, is in place to ensure that the Irish Prison Service abides by our duties under legislation to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect the human rights of our staff and those to whom we provide services.

The following legislation covers Equality, Diversity & Inclusion issues in the Irish Prison Service. The main legislation is Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and Equal Status Acts 2000-2015. However there are other constitutional, international treaty and policy commitments that also impact.

The Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty places a statutory obligation on public bodies to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect the human rights of those to whom they provide services and staff when carrying out their daily work. It puts equality and human rights in the mainstream of how public bodies execute their functions. To that end, it has the potential to positively transform how public bodies engage with members of the public, and their own staff. The Duty has been part of Irish law since 2014, and is set out in Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.

Action Plans are published annually and are available here :


The Constitution

The Irish Constitution sets out a number of fundamental rights in Articles 38-44  such as the right to a fair trial, the right to life, the right to equality before the law, the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association and the protection of the family. In addition, the Courts have interpreted the Constitution as including certain other human rights – referred to as unenumerated rights – which include the right to bodily integrity, the right to earn a livelihood and the right to privacy.

European Convention on Human Rights

The European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2003/act/20/enacted/en/print.html incorporates the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law, allowing them to be considered before the Irish Courts. The ECHR Act also requires that each organ of the State, such as Government Departments and Local Authorities, perform its functions in a manner compatible with the State’s obligations under the Convention.

International Human Rights Treaties

Ireland has ratified a number of international human rights treaties or conventions. It is obliged under international law to ensure – through its laws and policies – that the rights set out in these treaties are respected in the State. UN treaty monitoring bodies periodically examine Ireland’s progress in relation to these rights. The ‘Concluding Observations’ of these examinations identify specific human rights concerns where further action is required. Some treaties also allow individuals to bring complaints to the relevant Treaty body. To have ‘force of law’ within the State – i.e. to be legally enforceable through the domestic courts – treaty rights must be incorporated through Acts of the Oireachtas, or in certain cases, amendments to the Constitution. For example, the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act 2000 gives effect to certain provisions of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Right to Privacy

The General Data Protection Regulation and all Data Protection legislation is founded and based on the right to privacy which is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to protect the rights and freedoms of people to privacy and the protection of their personal data, and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – Right to respect for private and family life.

Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

  • Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her.
  • Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been collected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.
  • Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an independent authority.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – Right to respect for private and family life

  • Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
  • There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The key legislative frameworks are:

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union contains 54 Articles on a range of civil, political and social rights and freedoms under six titles: Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights and Justice. For example, Title Three of the Charter Rights is on equality, and Articles 20-26  protect the following rights:

  • Equality before the law;
  • Non-discrimination;
  • Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity;
  • Equality between women and men;
  • The rights of the child;
  • The rights of the elderly;
  • Integration of persons with disabilities.

The Charter became legally binding on the EU with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009. The provisions of the Charter are addressed to the institutions of the EU, and are also addressed to the Member States when they are implementing EU law.

EU Equality Directives

The main EU equality Directives are:

The wider EU equality framework includes a range of other directives such as the Work Life Balance Directive, Maternity and Parental Leave Directives and the Pregnancy Directive.

Irish Equality Law

The EU Equality Directives are legislated for in Irish law primarily under the Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015 and Equal Status Acts 2000-2015

National policy commitments

The State has already committed to a progressing human rights and equality through a number of national plans and strategies. These include:

Other Relevant links:


Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Unit,

Irish Prison Service,
Corporate Services Directorate,
IDA Business Park,
Ballinalee Road, Longford,
Co. Longford N39 A308

Telephone +353 (0)43 333 5292 | Email info@irishprisons.ie