New EU FRA report highlights barriers to voting for disabled people in Ireland

29 May 2024

Ahead of the EU elections, this report explores the political participation of people with disabilities. Although some Member States removed restrictions on the right to vote and to stand for elections, barriers still exist. This report is an update of new developments following FRA’s last report published in 2014. It sets out ways forward to ensure people with disabilities have equal opportunities, in line with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Member States have now increasingly adopted disability strategies. However, systematic and meaningful consultation with disabled people’s organisations is still lacking. So is regular training of election authorities and officials on disability discrimination, accessibility and reasonable accommodation. Administrative barriers to obtaining information, registering to vote and obtaining support during elections persist in some Member States.

Key findings include:

  • All Member States and the EU have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), although a few Member States have made declarations and reservations, including about Article 12.
  • Several Member States’ laws have removed restrictions on the right to vote and the right to stand for elections based on legal capacity.
  • Significant developments were also noted at the EU and Member State levels in terms of accessibility of the voting process, especially regarding accessibility standards provided by law for polling stations, and guidelines on accessibility of polling stations. However, people with visual, hearing or intellectual disabilities still face considerable barriers.
  • The EU web accessibility directive and the common European standard on web accessibility as well as the audiovisual media services directive have increased access to voting and to information.
  • Sign language interpretation, audio description and subtitling of key public programmes providing instructions for voting and information on candidates is increasingly provided.

Read the full report and country report below:

Political participation of people with disabilities – new developments

 Country research – Political participation 2024 – Ireland

Launch event for the Arts Council ‘Open Up’ report on the experiences of Black artists in Ireland

The report: ‘Open Up: Barriers to funding and opportunities for Black and Black-Irish artists’

In 2022, concern about inequalities in the Awards Data at the Arts Council prompted the commissioning of a report to investigate the reasons for applications from a disproportionate number of Black artists being deemed ‘ineligible’ compared to artists from other ethnic backgrounds.

We found that patterns of racial discrimination in the Irish labour market are reflected in the arts sector. Black artists with equivalent experience and qualifications are offered fewer opportunities & less information and are widely excluded from professional networks. 

The launch event

The launch event on Tuesday 23 April brought together a panel of Black artists to discuss the findings and our recommendations, moderated by Arts Council member Melatu-Uche Okorie as panel chair, and artists Joe Odiboh, Esosa Ighodaro, Dafe Orugbo, Ashley Chadamoyo Makombe, and Aisha Bolaji for their responses to the report. Many thanks to all of them for their engagement with the report’s finding and recommendations, and creating a strong opening dialogue with the audience and Arts Council staff to inform the Arts Council’s next steps.

Listen to artist Dafe Orugbo on RTE Morning Ireland responding to our report.

The event was introduced by the Interim Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Arts Council, Hannah Gordis, and Director of Strategic Development Deirdre Behan, who responded to questions on immediate work inside the Arts Council in response to the report (such as a review of the application process, and an increase in supports for first-time applicants) and a forthcoming plan to implement recommendations within the Arts Council and across the arts sector.

What did we find?

We reviewed the application process and found that ineligible applications from Black artists were mainly in one new cohort of first-time applicants, but that on the whole, participation by Black artists in the awards application process had previously been lower than for other groups.

We identified a number of questions for further examination, including: (1) why were ineligible applications mainly in a new cohort of Black artists who were young, male and applying for music awards and (2) why were Black female artists overall more likely to receive awards than female artists from other ethnic groups, but less likely to apply until they were well-established artists?

Our report reflects the findings of a series of interviews with Black artists and arts organisations supporting Black artists. The findings highlight the persistence of discrimination and the impact of social closure amongst professional arts networks, and the effects on how Black artists get to know the Arts Council, access information about how to apply successfully for awards, and secure the necessary elements (venues, programme slots, references, etc.) for a successful application.

The data we investigated on ineligibility actually showed positively that there had been an increase in Black male music artists applying to the Arts Council for the first time. But why did outreach efforts to this group result in failure instead of success for this new group? 

The Arts Council application process is well-known to be difficult to navigate and complete, with applicants highly reliant on information and support from formal and informal artists networks in almost every art form and genre. Without that support, 1st time applicants fail. 

The Arts Council has only relatively recently recognized the need to confront the negative effects of relying on those informal networks, and the way in which it reinforces wider patterns of exclusion. Their equality analysis of awards data since 2021 underpins this recognition. 

Black artists and Arts organizations working with Black artists shared 100s of examples with us of how discriminatory behavior affects their entry to and ability to compete in the publicly-funded arts landscape in Ireland. 

The cumulative effect of this discrimination creates an interlinked series of barriers to Black artists at all stages of careers to secure the roles, venues, programme spots, references and professional memberships which are expected in applying for public arts funding. 

So a *positive* thing that more Black artists applying, but now a need to address the discrimination across the sector that undermines their capacity to compete fairly, including reform of the application system and work with arts organizations to address discrimination. 

The data also showed that Black female artists are *more* successful than other ethnic groups, but there are (proportionally) far fewer and more likely to be very well established in their careers albeit without a history of public funding. 

We found Black female artists are persistently excluded from social & professional networks, not elsewhere receiving the informal mentoring that comes with those networks and not being recognized and guided towards public funding until they already winning awards elsewhere. 

There is a huge wealth of Black talent in this country, in the arts sector, and the publicly funded arts *will* hugely benefit from outreach and anti-discrimination measures. Black artists in Ireland are actively developing, showing and promoting their work, and some are winning awards and even significant funding in other countries *as Irish artists*. The Irish arts sector is losing out as long as we do not recognize that talent here.
This is not news to organizations working with Black artists already. 

We were commissioned by the Arts Council to carry out this research based on our experience in this area, and our previous work (and robust recommendations) on equality data with the Council. The research is a much needed prompt for change within the Arts Council and arts sector 

This research would not exist without the expertise and experience shared with us by the Black artists in Ireland who worked with us on it.
It is crucial that the arts sector now work directly with them to implement the recommendations of this report. 

Read the full report here or the short summary here

You are welcome to contact us with any questions you have about the report. Queries about the Arts Council’s work in response to our recommendations should be directed to Hannah Gordis at the Arts Council.

Evaluation of the Cairde Balbriggan Mental Health and Well-being Programme for Migrant Women

We are really proud to have worked with Cairde Ireland in 2023 to evaluate their innovative Mental Health and Well-being program for minority ethnic and migrant women in Balbriggan – hear from the participants and the team behind this programme in this video shared by Our Balbriggan, recorded at the report launch event in March 2024.

Cairde is a national organisation working to tackle health inequalities among minority ethnic communities by improving their access to health services and their participation in health planning and delivery. This project was coordinated by Sarah Duku and Emilia Marchelewska.

You can read our evaluation report and recommendations here

We are now beginning the evaluation of a new programme by Cairde Balbriggan delivering mental health and well-being training to asylum seeker and refugee women.

December newsletter

We hope December is a joyful month for you, full of friends and fun, as well as or despite the serious work to be done.  

If you enjoy our newsletter please forward it to someone else who might enjoy it too! We always welcome your feedback on how we can update you about our various activities in a convenient and timely way.
Subscribe to our monthly news email

Our current research

Political participation of persons with disabilities
The UN CRPD sets out political participation rights clearly in Article 29, but how available are they in practice?We are currently undertaking desktop research for FRA on access to political participation in Ireland – expect the report out next year.

Policing experiences of Brazilians and People of African Descent in Ireland
We are currently finishing up our work with INAR on the independent research commissioned by the Policing Authority for submission in early 2024. Grateful thanks to all who facilitated and supported the research on this sensitive topic, and especially to our participants.

Recently completed research

Black and Black-Irish artists access to funding and opportunities

We recently completed this report for the Arts Council, including interviews with artists and arts organisations, and we look forward to publication early in the new year.

Child Protection in the EU

We just finished working with the EU Fundamental Rights Agency to update its 2016 mapping of child protection systems in the EU.  This is part of its work in Integrated Child Protection Systems. We look forward to sharing the relaunched map in 2024.

Recently published research

Disabled Persons Organisation (DPO) Coalition Consultation Report

This Consultation Report presents the views and experiences of disabled people in Ireland based on 672 surveys and 8 focus groups. It was created in advance of the Irish Government presenting to the United Nations Committee on the Government’s work to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) to offer an alternative report on the realities faced by disabled people in Ireland today. Read it here

Equality Data and Arts Council Awards 2022

The Arts Council published our analysis of last year’s funding across gender, ethnicity and disability. Read it here.

Anti-Muslim Hatred Database Update

The database provides an overview of relevant international, European and national case law and decisions. It also provides findings of national human rights bodies related to anti-Muslim hatred incidents, such as violence, property offences, incitement to violence or hatred, other forms of hate speech, discrimination, harassment. In addition, it provides relevant research findings, including reports, studies and statistics on these issues, as well as information on victims’ support organisations providing support to victims of hate-motivated crime. See the Irish data here.

Fundamental Rights Report 2023

The Annual Report 2023 reviews major developments in the field in 2022, with particular attention this year to: Support for human rights systems and defenders; Asylum, migration and borders;Data protection, privacy and new technologies; Equality, non-discrimination and racism; Justice, victims’ rights and judicial cooperation

Protecting civil society – Update 2023

Civil society organisations struggle to maintain an environment safe from threats and attacks. FRA’s sixth annual update on civic space explores the challenges for organisations across the EU.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine – Displaced children finding protection in the EU

More than 1.3 million children sought international protection in the EU. This bulletin explores the respect, protection and fulfilment of the fundamental rights of displaced children and ways to safeguard their rights.

This month we are thinking about…

We are still talking about Gaza

Keep raising your voices, keep sending your support and solidarity. For a list of upcoming events through December, see

After the Dublin riots

There have been important conversations happening since the events at Parnell Square – here’s our round-up of things to read and know….

The voices of minority ethnic and migrant communities are at risk of being lost in the debates that follow, says Teresa Buczkowska in the – Opinion: The riots were a scaled-up version of what we migrants face every day in Ireland
Sorcha Pollak talks to some migrants living in Dublin after the riots – Migrant community ‘stressed, afraid and traumatised’ after Dublin city riots

Hope and Courage Collective (formerly the Far-Right Observatory) have published a short guide for community leaders on how to respond after the riots – it’s a live document to provide you with ongoing support. Access it here

Facial Recognition Technology is not the solution

ICCL previously called for a ban on the police use of facial-recognition technology, arguing that it poses an “extreme risk to rights.” see Liam Herrick, ICCL in the Irish Times

ICCL currently have a petition open you can sign here

This month we are enjoying…

The new digital exhibition from Irish in Britain showing the diversity of our diaspora across the UK. It’s packed with fascinating accounts including the stories of LGBTQIA Irish abroad, Mixed Race Irish, and the work to support access to abortion for people in Ireland.

Project updates

We believe in transparency and accountability. As far as possible, we try to make sure that research participants are kept up to date on the progress of research and its later publication. Timelines can and do change regularly, especially where projects have to pass through the many stages to publication. Our new Project Updates webpage helps you track the latest news on each project.

New for 2024!

Supporting you when you need us

We are launching our new one-to-one advice and support service, helping you to tackle the issues you are facing when you need us! Book a single call or a priority support package valid for 12 months – more details here.

Good news for race equality as Irish universities and colleges sign up to Anti-Racism Principles

The Higher Education Authority Anti-Racism Principles have been signed over the last few months by many Universities and HE Colleges across Ireland after approval by their Governing Bodies, including University College Cork , University of Galway, University College Dublin, University of Limerick, Technological University Dublin Technological University of the Shannon, Atlantic Technological University , South East Technological University, Dundalk Institute of Technology , Carlow College, St Patrick’s, National College of Ireland , and MIC.

These commit each University or College to acknowledge inequalities and racial discrimination in higher education, and to embed a culture of race equality across their institution.

These principles were developed by the HEA with higher education stakeholders following the 2020 report which highlighted racial abuse, discrimination and salary gaps affecting minority ethnic staff in higher education.

Recommendations in the report by Marta Kempny and Lucy Michael were across eight areas – supporting diversity in staff, supporting diversity in student recruitment, making race/equality policies transparent, reporting mechanisms, awareness and training, fostering diversity in HEIs, leadership and data collection

Senior leadership in HEIs were most commonly identified as the group most critical to the process of improving race equality in higher education and there is an opportunity for real evidence-informed leadership in this area by HEIs. High level commitment is crucial.

Huge thanks to all in the HEA staff and voluntary working groups who injected so much energy into this. We have been privileged to play a supporting role in the research. All credit now goes to the teams across each University that are implementing the HEA Race Equality Plan.

Pictured: screenshots from announcement of signing at ATU, SETU, NCI, ATU, UCD, UCC, TU Dublin, and TUS.

Tu Dublin
Carlow college
University of Galway

Supporting the Arts Council’s promotion of equality

We are delighted to have been involved in a number of projects with the Arts Council supporting the promotion of equality in the arts sector in Ireland and the implementation of policy changes to fulfil the organisation’s obligations under the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty.

Strategic Evaluation

In 2022, we carried out an evaluation of the Arts Council’s first 3 year Equality, Human Rights and Diversity (EHRD) Policy and Strategy  with Navigo Consulting, including interviews with key staff across all areas of operations and focus groups with artists across all equality grounds.

The Arts Council has in August launched its new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Implementation Plan 2023–2028 , composed by the Arts Council’s Equality, Diversity, & Inclusion team, drawing on our evaluation and recommendations.

Analysis of Equality Data

In 2023, we conducted an analysis of the 2022 equality data gathered by the Arts Council from all awards scheme applicants. This was published in August.

Read the full report at Equality Data and Arts Council Awards 2022

The following differences are most pronounced, and these strongly reflect the patterns evident in the previous year.

The analysis in this report is based on diversity data submitted as part of applications made to the Arts Council and for Arts Council schemes managed by Create and Arts & Disability Ireland in the year 2022. The diversity of applications and awards are compared in terms of disability, ethnicity, gender, and where possible, geographic location. To understand the relative demographic representativeness of applicants and recipients, each of these metrics have been compared (where possible) to the population of Ireland Census 2022. This report presents a summary of key findings from that analysis.

  • There is a higher proportion of both applicants and recipients who identify as female compared to the general population.
  • Individuals who identify as having a disability are under-represented amongst applicants and recipients compared to the general population.
  • In respect of ethnicity, the rate of application and award is lowest among individuals who identify their ethnic background as Other or Mixed, Asian or Asian Irish, Black or Black Irish, or belonging to the Traveller Community.
  • Geographic spread was uneven, with Dublin was significantly over-represented in terms of proportion of applicants and recipients compared to the population. Cork, Galway, Wicklow, Clare and Sligo were also slightly over-represented in applications.

Arts funding in Ireland: exploring factors affecting grant awards to Black and Black-Irish artists.

In its 2021 Awards Data Report, the Arts Council published data which showed that Black or Black Irish artists made up 1.9% of applications, 1.5% of successful applications, 1.4% of unsuccessful applications, and 4.5% of applications deemed ineligible. The proportion of ineligible applications is higher than any other ethnic or racial group. We undertook research for the Arts Council of Ireland to understand why Black or Black-Irish artists were more likely to be deemed ineligible than other ethnic or racial groups amongst applicants to Arts Council funding.

We investigated a wide range of factors which might contribute to this high rate of ineligible applications. We reviewed a wide literature on barriers faced by minority artists, analysed available application data, and in March 2023, we invited Black and Black-Irish artists to take part in this research on a confidential basis regarding their experience of the application process. Participants in the research interview were compensated for their input by the Arts Council in line with its Paying the Artist policy.

The findings will inform a review of the application process to ensure that decision-making processes are based on best practice and applicants of all backgrounds are treated fairly. A summary report with recommendations which anonymises interview contributions has been shared with the Arts Council.

For more on the Arts Council’s work on equality, see

Queries about the above publications should be directed to the EDI Unit at

Migrant Integration: comparing Ireland and Northern Ireland

A new report Comparing migrant integration in Ireland and Northern Ireland was launched on 6 March as part of a series of research papers under the #SharedIsland joint research programme between the Department of Taoiseach’s Shared Island Unit and the ESRI.

This report examines migrant integration in Ireland and Northern Ireland, using information from national and international surveys as well as a consultation event with migrants, their representative groups and other key stakeholders. Migrants are defined as those born outside their country of residence. The report compares the composition of the migrant population in Northern Ireland and Ireland. It considers migrant employment rates and the nature of jobs they hold, as well as migrant-origin young people’s academic outcomes and wellbeing, compared to their native-origin peers. It also considers attitudes to migrants in both jurisdictions, and migrants’ experience of the border in Ireland.

Lucy joined the panel for the launch as one of the report’s external reviewers, along with Councillor Lillian Seenoi-Barr, Derry & Strabane Council, and Ivy Goddard, Director of the Inter Ethnic Forum for Mid & East Antrim, with journalist Sorcha Pollak, author of New to the Parish: Stories of Love, War and Adventure from Ireland’s Immigrants, as moderator.

Read the report’s highlights and download the full report at

Child Protection in Ireland

We are currently undertaking research on behalf of the Fundamental Rights Agency (EU FRA) alongside researchers in all 27 member states on a thematic report mapping national child protection systems.

Our report on Ireland will be produced during spring 2023 and submitted to FRA for review and publication (date not yet confirmed).

FRA previously published a similar report on Child Protection Systems in the EU in 2015

2fm talks about bias

Lucy was on the Jennifer Zamparelli show on Tuesday 14 February to answer Jen’s questions about unconscious bias, what it means and why it’s trendy right now, and alternative approaches to tackling discrimination

Lucy was on the Jennifer Zamparelli show on Tuesday 14 February to answer Jen’s questions about unconscious bias awareness, what it means and why it’s trendy right now, and alternative approaches to tackling discrimination

Read our briefing here

The Unconscious Bias Approach to Equality

Listen back here

2022 in review

HUGE THANKS to everyone who worked with us in 2022.

It’s been an incredibly busy year for us, and a very satisfying one!

We had 3 full-time team members, 2 part time, and 11 project staff, based in Dublin, Galway and Belfast.

  • Dr Lucy Michael – Director
  • Dr Niloufar Omidi – Senior Researcher (Human Rights Law)
  • Dan Reynolds – Researcher (Social Analysis)
  • Dr Ka Ka Tsang – Researcher
  • Dr Marta Kempny – Researcher (Social Analysis) (not in photo)
  • Megan Elliott – Executive Assistant

We are grateful for all our team members and partners and how they help us to further our work on equity, inclusion and justice.

The She Leads Fingal programme was designed and led with 5 prominent local leaders in Fingal. Ayo Yusuf, Geraldine Rooney and Catherine Joyce led the in-person delivery with Lucy.

The Belfast Inequalities research was conducted with a team of 8 peer researchers from the city.

  • Maria Teglas
  • Ezzaldin Thabet
  • Nattassa Latcham
  • Marty Pilkiewicz
  • Mary McDonagh
  • Salwa Al Sharabi
  • Eva Logan
  • Support: Denis Long and Pauline McGarry

The Belfast Inequalities programme was delivered in partnership with ACSONI and POLCA.

Our clients this year in Ireland, the UK and Europe included:

Arts Council of Ireland

Belfast City Council

Church of Ireland

Croí na Gaillimhe SVP Asylum Support Group

Fingal County Council

Galway City Partnership

European Network Against Racism

EU Fundamental Rights Agency

Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC)

Irish Deaf Society

Irish Council of Churches

Irish Network Against Racism

Maynooth University

New Communities Partnership

Policing Authority

University of Galway