Why a National Action Plan on Racism is Needed?
Racism is a complex and multifaceted issue that takes many forms. It can be directed at migrants/asylum seekers; it can take the form of discrimination and hatred based on skin colour and it can be directed at communities that are both new and long-standing in Ireland.
Racism and discrimination can be deliberate, but it can also spring from a lack of awareness/education or from the manipulation of fears for political and other purposes.
While some forms of racism such as discrimination in goods and services and employment are well covered by the Equality legislation, other forms highlighted below are less well dealt with either through legislation or policy initiatives.
Racism Not Covered in Legislation
Racist Abuse and Harassment
Racist abuse and harassment are more likely to be reported by the media when it happens to someone of a higher profile, such as sports stars.
Tackling racist abuse and harassment requires a broad-based approach, such as effective codes within sporting organisations; education and awareness strategies, and a zero-tolerance approach involving organisations and the Gardai working together.
Racism at an institutional level
Anti-minority discourse by politicians and political parties seeking to make political advantage by pandering to prejudice is in the increase across Europe and is evident in countries such as Poland, Austria, Germany, France, and Italy.
Pro-active measures such as the political protocol can help decrease the opportunities or political forms of racism, particularly at election time and this political dimension should be highlighted in a new National Plan against Racism.
Who experiences discrimination in Ireland? Evidence from the QNHS Equality Modules shows 1 in 8 people experience racism and that Travellers experience much higher levels of discrimination in the workplace and in access to public and private services.
There are many other recent research reports that provide an insight into the nature and forms of racism in Ireland.
We Cannot Be Complacent About Racism
It is quite clear that we cannot be complacent about racism in Ireland. We need a comprehensive and integrated approach to tackling racism that brings together all key stakeholders including the communities themselves. We need to be proactive in building bridges with the communities that experience racism in Ireland and innovative and strategic in the way that this is done.
A new National Plan Against Racism is a key way in which this can be done rather than waiting for events that may force such a plan, including the emergence of extreme political parties and politicians in Ireland.