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For many people in Ireland, the Celtic Tiger represented more than a successful economic model. Having long suffered the twin blights of poverty and unemployment, the boom years of the 1990s and early 2000s symbolized a dramatic reversal of fortune that brought with it a newfound confidence and optimism.

Rosalind McKenna of Amnesty International Ireland explains the challenges besetting ESC rights in the country.
A new CESR briefing analyzing the country’s social and economic policies during these years throws into question whether the governments of the time were all that committed to the wellbeing of ordinary people, however. The document, produced as part of CESR's ongoing work on the human rights impacts of the global economic crisis, explores both the causes and consequences of Ireland's recession from a human rights perspective. It is intended to support the advocacy efforts of Irish civil society in the context of Ireland's appearance before the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.

CESR's research shows that the recovery policies implemented in the wake of the collapse have been markedly retrogressive in character, severely undermining what gains had previously been made in realizing economic and social rights. A series of austerity budgets, drawn up in conjunction with the IMF and EU, have been characterized by harsh cuts in social spending and a pronounced aversion to tax increases, despite the fact Ireland remains one of Europe’s lowest tax economies. Moreover, the fundamental human rights principles of transparency, accountability and participation were largely ignored in crises response measures that promise to limit Ireland’s economic wellbeing for many years to come. More worrying still is the fact that when the crisis first broke state institutions responsible for the protection of human rights were immediately subjected to disproportionate reductions in funding.

CESR believes that the wellbeing of ordinary Irish people must be placed at the center of both the design and implementation of economic and social policies. Moreover, human rights principles offer the best framework for the achievement of an equitable and sustainable recovery that not only protects the human rights of people in the country, but also ensures they cannot be unnecessarily prejudiced in the future.

Photo courtesy of William Murphy, (c) flickr.

Balancing the books, but neglecting the people
Op-Ed: CESR Executive Director Ignacio Saiz, writing in the Irish Examiner, examines the parallel patterns of retrogression stemming from Ireland and Spain's respective austerity programs.
CESR backs Irish civil society's call for rights in constitutional convention
June 28th, 2012
Joint letter: CESR has joined Irish civil society organizations in calling for public participation and the inclusion of economic and social rights on the agenda for the forthcoming constitutional convention.
UN urges governments to prioritize human rights over austerity
June 15th, 2012
News article: The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has issued an unusual open letter urging governments to prioritize human rights in times of economic crisis.
Ireland: Austerity must not trump human rights in constitutional reforms
Analysis article: CESR Executive Director Ignacio Saiz unpacks the human rights issues at stake in this week's referendum in Ireland on the EU Fiscal Compact Treaty.
A Bottom-Up Approach To Righting Financial Regulation
CESR has joined the Steering Committee of the Righting Financial Regulation project, a new coalition seeking to confront the human rights implications of the global economic crisis.
When the Celtic Tiger Falls: economic and social rights at risk in Ireland
This CESR advocacy document, circulated at Ireland's hearing before the Universal Periodic Review in October 2011, highlights the human rights impacts of economic recovery measures implemented in the country.