“This is not good governance and the situation must be addressed urgently. The chair of the Equality Authority should resign immediately, having signally failed to protect the interests of her own organisation and presided over the resignation of the chief executive and now up to half the board. I publicly call upon her today to do so. In addition, the tattered remnants of the serving board should also pack up their kit and salvage what little dignity they have left. Like the ancient Israelites, they are being commanded to make bricks without straw. We are not living in the middle kingdom of ancient Egypt. We are in a 21st century European democracy and they should land this task, which has been deliberately made impossible, back in the lap of the Government. The fraudulence of the Government’s pretended commitment to human rights should be publicly exposed.” Seanad debate 5/2/09
Senator David Norris yet again has risen to defend human rights and equality with all the gusto, conviction and eloquence we have come to expect of him. We should thank whatever god we pray to for his unfailing consistency in this respect, for the same cannot be said of some of our other LGB spokespeople. Norris was unequivocal in his condemnation of the Chair of the Equality Authority Board, Angela Kerins for her role as henchwoman in ensuring that the hatchet fell where it would do most damage. He has challenged remaining Board members of the EA to do the decent thing and resign rather than collude with the destruction of the Authority.
His undiluted disgust at their continuing to remain on the Board was refreshing to this blogger’s ears. Because no one else appears ready to name the hypocrisy that allows members of NGO organisations to provide cover for the destruction of one of, if not THE most important rights agency in Ireland. Niall Crowley was effectively pushed from his position as CEO, because anyone who knows the man and the depth of his commitment to equality, knows that it was untenable for him to remain in that position while everything he believed in and had laboured to achieve was being systematically demolished by the government and its plants on the EA board.
Some Board members have already resigned in support of Crowley and in protest at the disproportionate level of cuts incurred by the EA and the Minister’s outright refusal to consider any alternatives. Nevertheless, there are those who remain to give credibility to the pathetic husk of what is left of the agency.
While GLEN participates in the Equality & Rights Alliance established to fight the cuts and attacks on rights and equality bodies, Chair of the GLEN board, Kieran Rose continues to sit on the board of the EA overseeing the implementation of the cuts on the Authority. Rose claims he is on the EA as an individual. He is deliberately splitting hairs. The EA’s track record in promoting lesbian and gay equality is outstanding. Niall Crowley made LGB rights a priority from the moment he took up his post, by appointing a specific officer on sexual orientation issues and making LGB equality the subject of the very first report produced by the Authority. Kieran Rose as an individual gay man and as head of a national gay organisation has much to be thankful for in Crowley’s stewardship of the EA, but he repays him and the EA by actively colluding with a government that has made it impossible for the Equality Authority to ever be able to support and promote LGB rights to the same extent again.