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Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Snippet Contents:

I think I might be sharing time, but we will see.
I will take up where Deputy Sherlock left off. What the Minister of State said was incredible. His explanation that he was trying to put the prospective employee at ease beggars belief. Indeed, it beggars belief that a person would ask such questions of an interviewee, prefaced by "I should not be asking you this but...". He then went on to ask whether she was a married woman, whether she had children and how old they were. The idea that these questions would put an interviewee at ease is not really credible. These are precisely the types of questions that do not put someone at ease. I am not saying that the Minister of State, Deputy Halligan, was going to discriminate against the woman in question, but women know that they experience discrimination on the basis of having children and domestic responsibilities. This is done by employers, who, obviously, are not open about it. At the very least, it was a poor lapse of judgment by the Minister of State, Deputy Halligan. The Dáil deserves an explanation for it.
We support the Bill. We support the adding to the grounds of discrimination a person's social and economic background and disadvantaged socioeconomic status. I agree with the previous Deputy that part of what we are talking about is class discrimination, to put an accurate term on it. This is simply a reality. Class discrimination exists all around us from an individual level to societal level. At individual level the examples are numerous and include feeling unable to put one's actual address on job applications or feeling discriminated against on the basis of a person's job, address, accent, clothing or whatever. Class discrimination happens on a daily basis for individuals from working class backgrounds in this country.
It also happens in a societal sense. We live in a society and system that is built on class discrimination. The health outcome disparity between better-off areas in Dublin and more disadvantaged areas of Dublin is striking. The gap is striking because people are three times more likely to have cancer coming from a working class community than from a relatively affluent community. This is because of a lack of a national health service that is free at the point of use. Lifestyles issues can come from the pressures of not having access to resources, unlike better-off people. This can make people far more likely to suffer from bad health.
Another recent example is the Stardust fire. Families of victims have been fighting for 36 years for justice for the 48 working class young people who were killed in the fire. Those responsible have never been held responsible for what took place. It was a by-product of the callous disregard for working class life. When we talk about wealth and inequality and the kind of things we are seeing in the Paradise Papers and so on, we can see that it is societal as well.