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Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage
Bills\Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017\Second Stage

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Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2017

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Deputy Mattie McGrath

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Mattie McGrath

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Snippet Contents:

Go raibh maith agat.
The Employment Equality Acts and the Equal Status Acts prohibit discrimination on nine specified grounds. As the explanatory memorandum for this Bill makes clear, statutory intervention to expand the protection of both Acts to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disadvantaged socioeconomic or social background would involve an amendment to the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000.
The purpose of these amendments is to ensure that persons can no longer be discriminated against on the basis that they come from a disadvantaged socioeconomic area or background. For instance, if this Bill was enacted, employers could not discriminate against a job applicant because he or she came from a disadvantaged local authority estate or an area that is associated with higher levels of criminality or anti-social behaviour. Furthermore, it would not be permissible for service providers to discriminate against people because of where they live. I welcome that. Surely this is something we can all support.
I have questions, however, around where the burden of proof lies in determining whether discrimination has actually occurred. There are also concerns around how we strike the appropriate balance in this area. That is delicate and difficult for employers. If we are forever expanding the grounds on which discrimination can be claimed, then it will become almost impossible for an employer to legitimately refuse to employ someone. I hope some of these issues can be teased out during this debate and when the Bill proceeds to Committee Stage and some amendments are tabled, and I hope to table some.
I support Deputy O'Callaghan in putting forward this legislation. In regard to the Acts of 1998 and 2000, respectively, one is talking about nearly 20 years ago. It is timely that we would have some movement here.
There is a cry, daily if not hourly, for all kinds of legislation on equality and we have had referendums and everything else. There has been significant emphasis put on such matters. Where is the fairness here in terms of the most basic human right - the right to have a job, to work and to self-determination? I believe people are entitled to a fair day's pay for a fair day's work but they have to get the work. I agree with the previous speaker, the Acting Cathaoirleach, Deputy Connolly, who is double jobbing. Like myself, she is able to go from the floor of the House to the Chair go tapaidh. Fair dues to her. I agree some people suffer discrimination. The best of people live on council estates in different parts of the country. It should not be because of where one comes from. We have to be fair. I am an employer. I suppose I should declare that. I have a staff. I normally do not have to conduct interviews because people come looking for work and I take them on if they are suitable. The question of where they come from never enters into it in my book because in south Tipperary we know most people.