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EU Presidency conference focuses on the protection of equality, human rights and the rule of law

08.05.2013, 17:07 GMT

Minister Alan Shatter TD and Minister of State Kathleen Lynch will open a conference at Farmleigh House this Thursday and Friday, May 9 and 10, as part of the Irish Presidency of the European Union.

The conference entitled, ‘A Europe of equal citizens: equality, fundamental rights, and the rule of law’ is hosted by the Department of Justice and Equality, the Equality Authority, the Human Rights Commission, and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

Speaking in advance of the conference, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, said “This conference is of particular importance in ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and the equal treatment of individuals within the European Union.  Its objective is to reaffirm and stimulate greater cooperation between Member States of the European Union in this area and in particular, in tackling xenophobia, racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism thereby ensuring that human rights continue to be fully protected and prioritised.”

The conference reflects a commitment by Minister Shatter to use the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union to promote discussion and debate on the protection of fundamental rights and the promotion of the Rule of Law in Europe. The conference will:

  • explore the opportunities for strengthening institutional arrangements for equality and fundamental rights protection more broadly, in particular the role of National Human Rights Institutions and Equality Bodies
  • draw on the expertise of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and on best practice and recent developments in other EU Member States
  • explore ideas about how to strengthen protection of fundamental rights and equality, tackle hate crimes, homophobia, anti-semitism and combat discrimination and promote the rule of law in the Union at both European and national level.

The event will be attended by members of Equality Bodies, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), government departments and civil society from EU member states and accession states. 

As part of our Policy Programme the Irish Presidency aims to further the European Commission's Rights and Citizenship Programme, which aims to promote respect for fundamental rights of EU citizens, including gender equality. Read the full Presidency programme.   

The conference will be streamed live on both days.  To view the web stream:

  1. Log onto Dublin Castle's website.
  2. Select ‘Event Room 1’ and enter the relevant username and password:

Thursday 9th May - User: 509c1, Password: 090513
Friday 10th May  - User: 509c2, Password: 100513

The full conference programme is available on the event page.

Note for Editors:

The conference speakers are as follows:

  • Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence
  • Dr. Stasys Stačiokas, a former Judge of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania
  • Prof. Christopher McCrudden of Queen’s University Belfast
  • Judge Aindrias Ó Caoimh from the European Court of Justice
  • Prof. Mirosław Wyrzykowski, a Bureau Member of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and former Polish Constitutional Tribunal judge
  • Dr. Sarah Spencer, Senior Fellow and former Deputy Director of COMPAS (Centre on Migration, Policy and Society) at the University of Oxford
  • Paul Nemitz, Director for Fundamental Rights and Citizenship in DG Justice, European Commission.   

The second day of the conference will be chaired by Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Kathleen Lynch TD.

Discussion panels will be moderated by MEP Kinga Göncz on Day 1 and Anastasia Crickley, Member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Head of the Department of Applied Social Studies at NUI Maynooth on Day 2.  The other panellists are:

  • Douglas Wake, First Deputy Director of ODIHR (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe)
  • Markus Jaeger, Directorate of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination, Council of Europe 
  • Vincent Depaigne, Fundamental Rights and Rights of the Child Unit, DG Justice, European Commission 
  • David Joyce BL, European Roma Rights Centre 
  • Shannon Pfohman, Deputy Director of Policy, European Network Against Racism (ENAR) 
  • Evelyn Collins CBE, member of the Board of Equinet, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. 
  • Prof. Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Chair of the European Group of National Human Rights Institutions 
  • Iverna McGowan, Amnesty International, European Institutions Office 
  • Dr. Jana Gajdošová, Freedoms and Justice Department, FRA

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