Who we are and what we do
Roles and responsibilities of ECNI
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is an independent public body established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
Relevant legislation provides that it must promote equality of opportunity and affirmative action, work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination, keep relevant legislation under review, promote good relations between persons of different racial groups and oversee the effectiveness of statutory duties on public authorities.
Under the provisions of section 74 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the functions previously exercised by the Fair Employment Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland, the Commission for Racial Equality for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Disability Council shall instead be exercisable by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
Since the formation of the Commission the legislative framework has been extended to cover new grounds: age and sexual orientation; the existing grounds disability, race, sex (including marital and civil partner status), religious belief and political opinion, have been extended.
The Commission has aimed to fulfil these duties by working in partnership with key stakeholders to place equality at the heart of civic, economic and political life in Northern Ireland.
Further information on the Commission´s role and responsibilities Are available in general leaflets and publications, in the Commission´s Management Statement agreed with OFMdFM and in the relevant legislation under which it derives its authority. All of these materials can be accessed via www.equalityni.org.
Information relating to the legislation relevant to the authorities functions
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which has been in existence since 1 October 1999, is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) established as a body corporate by Section 73 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.
The main pieces of legislation from which the Commission derives its duties and powers are:
Equal Pay Act (NI) 1970, as amended
Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976, as amended
Disability Discrimination Act 1995, as amended
Race Relations (NI) Order 1997, as amended
Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998, as amended
Northern Ireland Act 1998
Equality (Disability, etc.) (NI) Order 2000
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2003,as amended
Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order 2005, as amended
Disability Discrimination (NI) Order 2006
Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (NI) 2006, as amended
Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006, as amended
The legislation can be accessed at www.opsi.gov.uk or via the link provided on the Commission´s website www.equalityni.org.
Lists of and information relating to organisations with which the Commission works in partnership
The Commission´s Sponsoring Department is the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Within OFMdFM, its Equality and Rights Unit is the sponsoring team for the Commission. The relationship between the Sponsoring Department is governed by means of a Management Statement, which is in turn supported by a more detailed Financial Memorandum. Both of these documents can be found on the website.
The Commission has agreed Memorandum of Understanding with the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY), The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Community Relations Council (CRC). These have been placed on our website.
Details of Commissioners and senior staff
Under the legislation, the Commission shall consist of not less than 14 nor more than 20 Commissioners. From among the Commissioners the Secretary of State also appoints the Chief and at least one Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. The Chief Commissioner is appointed by the Secretary of State for a period of three years in line with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Commissioners are appointed by the Secretary of State for a period of three years in line with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
The responsibilities of the Chief Commissioner and Commissioners are set out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and more fully in the Management Statement and Code of Practice for Commissioners agreed between the Department and the Commission. These as well as biographical details of the current Commissioners can be found on our website.
Evelyn Collins Chief Executive
Keith Brown Head of Corporate Services
Fionuala Devlin Head of Promotions and Education
Eileen Lavery Head of Strategic Enforcement
Jacqui McKee Head of Employment Development
Antoinette McKeown Head of Policy and Development
Equality Commission Organisational Structure