Ireland strongly condemns all forms of persecution on the basis of religion or belief, irrespective of where they occur or who the victims are. We are committed to promoting freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as the rights of persons belonging to religious minorities. This commitment to promoting freedom of religion and belief is reaffirmed in the Global Island: Ireland’s Foreign Policy for a Changing World.
Ireland advocates for inclusive societies through our work with the UN’s Human Rights Council, in particular through the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the human rights records of UN Member States. We are also members of the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief. This is an informal cross-regional network which aims to encourage information sharing and cooperation between governments to discuss joint advocacy strategies for the promotion and protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief internationally.
Within the EU, Ireland works with partners to address the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. We played a key role in the adoption of EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief during our Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2013. The current EU Action Plan for Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 includes an express reference to the promotion of freedom of religion or belief, and we will continue to work to ensure that Freedom of Religion or Belief is addressed within the framework of the EU’s external human rights policy.
Here at home, freedom of religion or belief, including the persecution of religious minorities, is discussed at the DFAT Committee on Human Rights, which brings together representatives of civil society, including NGOs and academics, to consider human rights issues in the context of Ireland's foreign policy. In addition, my Department coordinates the Inter-Departmental Committee on Human Rights, which is chaired by my colleague Minister Ciaran Cannon and which comprises officials from relevant Government Departments.