* To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality on foot of the publication regarding the merging of the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority, the steps being taken to ensure the independence of the new enhanced entity, to ensure the establishment of a robust legal basis to facilitate effective functioning through ascribed powers and on the implementation of measures to ensure an appropriate balance between the human rights role and the equality role of the new organisation.
I wish to draw the Deputy’s attention to my statement when I announced the Government’s plan to merge the Human Rights Commission and Equality Authority last October. At that time I stated that the new Human Rights and Equality Commission will unequivocally keep faith with the UN Paris Principles on national human rights institutions. As the Deputy has noted, the Working Group I established to advise me on practical issues in relation to the new body, including its powers and functions and issues in relation to the necessary establishing legislation, has now reported and its Report was published on 20 April 2012. I am currently examining the recommendations made by the Working Group and will bring my proposals in relation to the various recommendations set out in the Report to Government shortly. The Deputy will be able to judge for himself that my legislative proposals will most definitely deliver on my commitment that this merger will strengthen our institutional framework to strengthen human rights and equality when they are published.