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Northern Ireland - Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

UNITED KINGDOM: Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

Main Informations


The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is an independent public body. Its remit and responsibilities include:
• promoting equality of opportunity and affirmative action
• working towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination and harassment
• keeping relevant legislation under review
• promoting good relations between persons of different racial groups and good disability practice
• overseeing the effectiveness of statutory equality duties on public authorities

Brief history

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland was established in 1999, taking over responsibilities of Commissions duty with single strand issues going back to 1976. Its powers and duties derive from a number of statutes which have been enacted over the last decades, providing protection against discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, race, religion and political opinion, sex and sexual orientation. It also has responsibilities in respect of the statutory equality and good relations duties which apply to public authorities.
The Commission’s vision is of a society in Northern Ireland where there is equality for all and a common understanding of the benefits of a more equal society. The Commission’s mission is to improve people’s lives through the effective implementation of its statutory responsibilities.

Mandate type
  • Predominantly promotion-type and legal support body
Litigation powers
  • Formally deciding on complaints (e.g. decision or recommendation addressed to the parties) Not legally binding
Activities aimed at supporting vulnerable groups (e.g. through trainings)yesyesyesyesyesyesnononono
Activities aimed at supporting duty bearers such as employers and service providers (e.g. through trainings, guidance material, practical support, etc.)yesyesyesyesyesyesnononono
Communication activities (e.g. awareness raising campaigns)yesyesyesyesyesyesnononono
Recommendations on discrimination issuesyesyesyesyesyesyesnononono
Publications and reportsyesyesyesyesyesyesnononono
Research projects (including surveys)yesyesyesyesyesyesnononono
Our institution has a mandate to deal with:
  • UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Other statistics
Number of inquiries handled per year (all contact even if not resulting in a formal complaint)295832429518458196881883319510no datano datano datano data
Number of cases handled per year (case files opened and processed according to your procedures)315274264315286291no datano datano datano data
Number of media appearances per year (major newspapers/magazines/websites/blogs, TV + radio channels) - does not include social media475428499314918503no datano datano datano data
  • Collegiate headed equality body (led by a distinct board/commission)
Management details

• The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is governed by a board of Commissioners consisting of a Chief Commissioner, Deputy Chief Commissioner and up to 18 other Commissioners. Commissioners set the overall strategic direction for the organisation, set the policy framework and oversee the delivery of the planned work. With the exception of the Chief Commissioner who works four days a week, all Commissioners are part time and are appointed for a three-year term. The Chief Executive ensures that the Commission’s staff and resources are deployed to deliver the annual Business Plan.

Additional details

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is sponsored by The ‘Executive Office’ which carries responsibilities for equality policy and legislation in the Northern Ireland Executive.
The Commission’s staff are led by its Chief Executive and work in four core divisions: Advice & Compliance, Legal, Policy & Research, Communications & Promotion and Corporate Services.

Procedure for nomination and appointment of management and board

Commissioner vacancies are advertised every three years and appointments are made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. All staff, including the Chief Executive are directly recruited by the Commission.

Number of staff dealing with equality issues
no data11911610810695no datano datano datano data
Grounds and fields of discrimination covered by the equality body
Grounds / FieldsEmploymentEducationHousingSocial Protection & HealthcareGoods & ServicesOther
Gender Identityyesyesyesyesyes
Race and Ethnic Originyesyesyesyesyes
Sexual Orientationyesyesyesyesyes
Religion & Beliefyesyesyesyesyes

Other grounds : Healthcare is covered in most pieces of legislation but we would need a definition of social protection as it may not be covered in its entirety.

Mandate covers:
  • Public sector
  • Private sector
Operating budget in euros
no data74240007418000738600065140007853000no datano datano datano data
Operating budget in euros for the parts of the organisation dealing with equality issues (all types of functions).
no datano datano datano datano datano datano datano datano datano data
We are accountable to:
  • The Executive Office (Regional Government Department)

Related News

Half of the women who responded to an Equality Commission investigation into the employment experiences of pregnant workers and mothers in Northern Ireland believe that their career opportunities have been negatively affected by their pregnancy or maternity leave.

That is one of the findings of ‘Expecting Equality: a Formal Investigation under the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976’.


The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland recently released a ‘Statement on Key Inequalities in Housing and Communities in Northern Ireland’. This highlights their assessment of inequalities and differences in housing experiences faced by equality groups across the Section 75 equality categories in Northern Ireland.


As health and social care budgets are slashed, disabled people’s right to independent living is being continually eroded, the UK’s equality and human rights bodies have said.
The warning comes ahead of a UN examination of the UK’s track record on disabled people’s rights on 23-24 August, which will be attended by Equinet members ECNI and the EHRC, amongst others.


Our colleagues at the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland are the next members to take over the Equinet Twitter account (@equineteurope) as part of our #MeetNEBs campaign.


Equinet Calendar 2018

January 11th 2018

Equality bodies assist victims of discrimination in a wide variety of ways. This calendar highlights some of the work that our members do to promote equal treatment in their respective countries


The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland carries out regular equality awareness surveys which look at public attitudes to equality groups, perceptions and support for equality issues, and awareness of equality and anti-discrimination issues, rights and protections. The findings of their 2016 survey on social attitudes and perceptions of equality in Northern Ireland have just been released. The survey follows similar studies in 2005, 2008 and 2011, which allows some comparisons on attitudinal change to be drawn.


Recent reports that Northern Ireland has reached ‘effectively full employment’ is good news. However, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s Statement on Key Inequalities in Northern Ireland strikes a cautionary note.


The nineteenth Annual Report of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, covering the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, was laid before the Northern Ireland Assembly and the House of Commons on 5 September 2018.

The Commission has also published a review summarising the report, which describes the range and impact of the Commission’s work twenty years after the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement made the focus on equality one of its central tenets.


A new Mental Health Charter for employers and service providers has been launched in Northern Ireland. The Charter, jointly produced by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI), Action Mental Health, Disability Action, Mindwise, Mental Health Foundation and Niamh, provides a framework for working towards mentally healthy workplaces.


Back to European Directory of Equality Bodies

General Contact Information

Full name in English:

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

Full name in the national language(s):

Equality Commission for Northern Ireland

Postal address:
Equality House 7-9 Shaftesbury Square Belfast BT2 7DP

General email address:


Telephone number:



Other social media channels:

Person of contact for media enquiries:

Louise Conlon (

Name of the Head of the equality body:

Chief Commissioner Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Executive Dr Evelyn Collins CBE

Engagement with Equinet

Contact Person


Mark Soult