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Empty Promises

Last update - Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 22:02 By Metro Éireann

By Niall Crowley (A&A Farmar)

Regardless of whether or not you agree with any of the views expressed in this first-hand account of the workings of the Equality Authority by its former CEO, it is still an extremely interesting read and an invaluable resource for anyone interested in this area of law or social science.
Empty Promises begins with overview of equality legislation, before delving into case studies that illustrate the Equality Authority’s work in Ireland, and evaluating equality programmes in various public and private bodies. Crowley also muses on several prominent equality battles waged in the media and the courts, and describes the circumstances that led to his resignation in late 2008.
Each chapter is well organised, the writing elegantly straightforward, the content both fact-packed and detailed with only the most occasional of veerings into vapid MBA-speak. The book is clear and concise and offers a wonderful insight into the potential workings of a government authority.
Although it is obvious where Crowley’s sympathies lie, there is little digression or pounding from the pulpit. Where opinions are included, although one may or may not agree with the reasoning, they are well-put and I felt that some – such as media pundits attempting to score points by trivialising equality issues (p69) and the analysis of discrimination against women in Ireland (p119) – did hit the nail on the head in a most gratifying manner.
While as a jurist I wish that the content had been more legally oriented, I suspect the fact that it isn’t and that there is nary a footnote in sight is a further point in favour for most readers. In fact, while it is rich in detail, Empty Promises can easily be read in an afternoon and serve as an excellent handbook for the non-specialist.
I suspect it paints a much different picture of equality issues and the work of the Equality Authority than the media would have the people of Ireland believe. Because of this, it tends to swim against the current of popular opinion. That alone, I think, makes it worth a read.

Roslyn Fuller is the author of political thriller ISAK. More information about the Canadian, her work and the Irish Writers’ Exchange can be found at

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