Ireland is a multiparty parliamentary democracy with an executive branch headed by a prime minister, a bicameral parliament (Oireachtas), and a directly elected president. The country held free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections in February and October 2011, respectively. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The principal human rights problem in the country remained poor conditions in prisons and detention facilities, some of which failed to meet basic needs for hygiene, were overcrowded, and were prone to prisoner violence. Additionally, the Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the Irish Human Rights Commission reported problems at mental health facilities and in the treatment of children in the penal system.
Other human rights problems reported were: lengthy asylum determinations; gender inequality in the workplace with regard to pay and promotions; child abuse; violence and discrimination against immigrants, particularly Africans; and societal discrimination against the indigenous Traveller minority.
The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses, including in the security services and elsewhere in the government. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year