Drastic funding cuts to human rights groups will have a long-term effect on equality for Ireland's most vulnerable people, it has been claimed.
The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) demanded that the Government should take immediate action to tackle serious gaps in human rights protection for groups such as travellers, migrants, asylum seekers, people with disabilities, and people in poverty and in prison.
Dr Maurice Manning, IHRC president, said the economic crisis was affecting vulnerable people.
"Human rights and equality are not optional extras for the good times," said Dr Manning. "They become even more important in times of crisis when more people are struggling to make ends meet.
"The policies of the state should not be a contributing factor to pushing more people into poverty. We are concerned that the cumulative effect of cuts to welfare and services targeted at vulnerable people are having that result."
The IHRC issued a report card on Ireland's human rights protections ahead of a United Nations study in October. It made more than 35 recommendations for the Government on legislative and policy areas across health, education, immigration, criminal justice and social welfare.
Dr Manning said there have been serious gaps in the state's efforts to date to meet its human rights obligations.
"Key reforms at constitutional, legislative, policy and service level are required to strengthen human rights in Ireland," he added.
"It is not acceptable that important human rights treaties that would increase protections for vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, migrant workers and people held in detention remain to be ratified.
"Drastic cuts in resources over the last three years to human rights and equality bodies have hampered their efforts to safeguard human rights and to hold the state to account."