Tánaiste to face questions at United Nations on Ireland's progress on human rights

Frances Fitzgerald is expected to be asked tough questions on Ireland's restrictive abortion laws

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Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald speaks to the media | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Tánaiste will address the United Nations today, to outline what the Government has done to improve human rights here.

The UN is reviewing the progress on a number of issues. However, abortion is expected to top the agenda.

Housing, historical abuse of women & children, the rights of minority groups and immigration & asylum are some of the other issues expected to be addressed.

It is the first significant event Frances Fitzgerald - who is also the Justice and Equality Minister - has had to deal with since being chosen as Tánaiste on Friday.

Mark Kelly of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties says our human rights laws will be put under the spotlight today.

"The Tánaiste will be able to report some big wins to the UN today, including holding a referendum on marriage for same sex couples and producing highly-progressive transgender recognition legislation," he explained.

"However, other UN member states, including our European neighbours will be asking very tough questions about our highly restrictive abortion regime, the absence of independent monitoring arrangements in places of detention, weak protections for people with disabilities and the failure to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority," he added.

Mr Kelly spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the UN Human Rights Council review.

He says his group and other civil society organisations have found previous reviews extremely useful, by reinforcing their "relationships with Government departments during the period between these reviews by other Member States.

"The Government knows it's not NGOs and academics who are going to be speaking to about its records - it's other governments who have gone through the same process," he added.