Pandemic must not delay legislation to end class discrimination

4 February 2021

Ivana Bacik

  • The Labour Party has received an answer to a PQ suggesting that legislation to introduce classism as a tenth prohibited ground of discrimination under the Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 will be delayed by the pandemic. 
  • The Government must provide a timeline for the introduction of a Bill to prevent this form of discrimination. 

In light of an answer to a Labour Party parliamentary question which signalled pandemic-related delays to a public consultation on the introduction of a new statutory ground of discrimination based on socio-economic status, Labour Seanad Leader and Spokesperson for Equality, Senator Ivana Bacik has called for the Government to prioritise the issue and to publish a timeline for the introduction of legislation. 

Senator Bacik said, 

“Last week, Labour asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration for an update on the status of a research report and public consultation commissioned by his Department on the insertion of socio-economic disadvantage as a new ground of discrimination into the equality legislation. In response, the Minister has said that Covid-19 has delayed the publication of the report and, consequently, the public consultation on the issue. 

“The need for this amendment to the Employment Equality and Equal Status Acts is clear. In fact, many people are surprised when they learn that a person who is discriminated against on the basis of their accent or class does not currently have recourse to the Workplace Relations Commission. 

“It is unacceptable that, in 2021, there are people across the country who write the address of a friend or relative on job applications because they believe that the use of their own home address would decrease their chances of success due to prejudice. 

“Apart from protecting people in the workplace, legislating for this would also serve a normative function by demonstrating society’s intolerance for classism in any form. 

“Unfortunately, class-based discrimination is embedded in Irish society. With economic inequality increasing across the world and in Ireland, the time to legislate for this is now. 

“I am disappointed to hear that the plans making progress on legislation have been delayed by Government. I am aware that an Opposition bill on this issue has passed first stage in the Dáil and considering how many people are affected, I call on Minister O’Gorman to revisit this issue and publish a timeline for the introduction of the eagerly awaited Government bill.” 

ENDS