Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty

Section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 requires public bodies to have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality, and protect human rights for service users, policy beneficiaries, and employees, across all their function areas. This is known as the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty (the Duty). Public bodies are required to: undertake an assessment of the equality and human rights issues facing the identified groups for the Duty that would have a relevance for their functions; identify the steps being taken or proposed to be taken to address the issues as assessed; and report annually on their progress in addressing these issues and implementing the Duty. The assessment and plans should be set out in a manner that is accessible to the public in the institution’s strategic plan. 
The Duty breaks new ground in an Irish context in requiring a more planned and systematic proactive approach to equality and human rights, and in a European context in being the first such statutory duty to combine a focus on equality and human rights.
The Irish Universities Association (IUA) undertook a joint initiative to develop shared templates for use by the universities to enable implementation of the Duty. The project was carried out by Values Lab and the templates were produced by Niall Crowley and Rachel Mullen.
Organisations are required to implement the Duty across all their function areas. The core function areas identified by the IUA project for a university encompass: 

  • Teaching and learning 
  • Employment 
  • Corporate governance (including procurement) 
  • Promoting and conducting research 
  • Innovation 
  • Community outreach (for example, through access programmes and events) 
  • Support for student wellbeing 
  • Provision of student accommodation  
  • Recreational and visitor services (e.g. public cultural spaces, gyms, etc.) 

As part of the IUA project, validation meetings were held in each institution, with people who had a lived experience of the ten target groups covered by the Duty. They considered and provided feedback on the appropriateness of the assessment template developed as part of the IUA project.  This meeting occurred in April 2022 in MU. 

MU has considered the Duty as part of its Strategic Plan, available here
MU publishes EDI Annual Reports each year, available here, as part of our requirements under the Duty.
MU is currently finalising our Human Rights and Equality Assessment and Implementation Plan for the Duty.

Maynooth University has three equality, diversity and inclusion specific policies - The University Equality and Diversity Policy is available here:

Maynooth University has two action plans which deal with equality, diversity and human rights matters in place already, including our MU Gender Equality Action Plan and the MU Action Plan to Tackle Sexual Violence and Harassment. The Gender Equality Plan is intersectional and covers issues relating to disability, LGBTQ+ issues and race equality in addition to gender equality. MU is currently developing a Race Equality Action Plan which will complement the existing initiatives.