Towards the Global Summit on Racism and European Preparatory Conference
Report of the Ireland
National Consultative Committee
In association with the
The United Nations Global Summit on Racism will be held in South Africa in August 2001, as part of the series of world conferences that previously included the UN Human Rights conference in Vienna (1993) and the UN conference on Women in Beijing (1995).
As part of the preparations for this Summit, a European Preparatory Conference on Racism took place between 11th and 13th of October 2000 in Strasbourg, preceded by a Forum for Non Government Organisations, held on the 10th/11th October.
In the lead up to the Global Summit and the European Preparatory Conference, the NCCRI in association with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Foreign Affairs, organised a preparatory national conference with the following purposes:
The approach of the conference in Ireland was consistent with the European preparations for the World Conference, with a strong emphasis on being practical, forward looking and action orientated. The four themes of the European preparatory conference were also reflected in the preparatory conference in Ireland as follows:
1. Legal protection against racism.
2. Policies and practices against racism.
3. Education and awareness raising to combat racism.
4. Information, communication and the media.
Further information about the European preparations for the Global Summit can be found web site: http://www.ecri.coe.int.
Section One: Contexts
Introduction and Purpose of the Conference
The European and World Conferences on Racism
Section Two: The Challenge to Address Racism in Ireland
Section Three: Key Themes.
Legal protection against racism
Policies and practices against racism
Education and awareness raising to combat racism
Information, communication and the media
Section Four Conclusions, Recommendations and Final Plenary
On the 5th of September 2000 the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of Foreign Affairs organised a Preparatory National Conference in Ireland to prepare for the Global Summit on Racism in South Africa (August 2001) and the European Preparatory Conference on Racism in Strasbourg (October 2000).
The approach adopted for the Preparatory Conference in Ireland was consistent with the Council of Europe preparations for the Global Summit, with a strong emphasis on being practical, forward looking and action orientated and inclusive of a wide variety of voices in Irish society, particularly NGO’s and minority ethnic groups The Preparatory Conference brought together 240 representatives of key government and non-government organisations, with the aim of continuing the process of building a consensus approach to addressing racism in Ireland and to contribute to the agenda currently being developed at European and Global levels.
This executive summary of the main report provides a description of the structure and contents of the Preparatory Conference in Ireland, its main conclusions and recommendations.
The purpose of the conference was to:
Executive Summary Section one
The report of the Ireland Preparatory Conference was divided into four sections. Section One provided the contextual basis of the conference. It included an introduction setting out the purpose of the conference by Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the NCCRI, which is a specialised body comprising NGO’s and State agencies established by the Government to provide advice and to develop initiatives to address racism in Ireland. She emphasised the opportunities provided by the conference and the preparations for the Global Summit to review the past and set down markers for a future free from racism.
This input is followed with an address by John O Donoghue TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, which outlined the Irish Government’s commitment and progress in developing a range of policies to address racism. The Minister’s address referred to the four main themes of the European Conference. Under the first theme, legal protection against racism, the Minister pointed to the new anti-discrimination legislation in the employment and non-employment areas, which have been enacted by the Irish Government. A new equality infrastructure has been set up to ensure that the legislation will be overseen and implemented effectively. The anti-discrimination legislation will allow Ireland to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and ratification is expected to be completed before the end of 2000. Arising out of commitments given in the Good Friday Peace Agreement, the Human Rights Commission Act was enacted in 2000 and provides the legislative basis for a new Human Rights Commission. The Minister further announced that the legislation prohibiting incitement to hatred, which has been in existence for more than ten years, is to be reviewed following criticism of its ineffectiveness.
Under the second theme, ‘policies and practices against racism’, the Minister welcomed the Anti-Racism Protocol for Political Parties and a Declaration of Intent for Candidates for Elections recently introduced by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism. He suggested that the possibility of extending the idea to other areas should be examined. Initiatives on policing in an intercultural society have been taken by the Garda Síochána, the national police force, including the establishment of a Garda Intercultural Office. The Minister listed the developments aimed at improving the situation of Travellers, including the continued monitoring and implementation of the Report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community, including the forthcoming report from the Monitoring Committee, and the support of initiatives involving NGO’s, including the ‘Citizen Traveller’ campaign and the Pavee Point Mediation Service.
Under the third theme of education and awareness raising, the Minister emphasised
On the theme of information, communication and the media, the Minister
Section One of the main report concluded with an overview of the background and preparations for the European Preparatory Conference and the NGO Forum by Justin Harman, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the Council of Europe. He outlined the role of the Council of Europe in addressing racism and the ways in which NGO’s can participate in the European preparations.
Executive Summary: Section Two
Section Two provides an overview of the challenge of addressing racism in Ireland from four different perspectives. Tania Kaur McFarland, representing the EU Migrants Forum and the India Club, addressed the issues facing migrants living in Ireland, their concerns about the burden imposed by the level of regulation and bureaucracy and the potential for such regulation to be construed as a form of discrimination. She concluded by urging that rather than responding when some national crisis occurs that ‘what we need now is to have a vision of what our society should be like in the future. It appears that the world is moving towards a high degree of racial and ethnic integration and Ireland cannot escape that reality.’
Martin Collins, of Pavee Point Travellers Centre, and a member of the Board of the NCCRI, outlines the socio economic circumstances of Irish Travellers and concerns about the pace of change, despite recent advances in policy. He spoke of the need to promote greater solidarity between Gypsies, Roam and Travellers at both European level and within Ireland. He referred to the growing acceptance of the concept of institutional discrimination, which can happen both intentionally and unintentionally… ‘In our case what this means is services are designed by the majority population for the majority population’. He concluded by emphasising the role that non-government organisations have played in the fight against racism and the need to ensure that this role is adequately resourced.
Dr. Jean Pierre Eyanga, a member of the Congo Solidarity Group and a refugee, looks at the racism experienced by refugees and asylum seekers and concludes that while his and many other refugees and asylum seekers experience in Ireland have been positive, there is increasing concern at a perceived resurgence in racism, including racially motivated violence. He urged that services provided by the State, including the Gardai and school authorities, should be more responsive to the issues and concerns raised by refugees and asylum seekers. He raised concerns about the provisions related to refugees and asylum seekers in the new immigration legislation and said that he hoped ‘that the Irish Government will adopt the same urgency when it considers measures to protect the community against racism and xenophobia.
Rose Tuelo Brock, originally from South Africa and now living in Galway in the west of Ireland, is a member of Galway One World and Women from Minorities in Europe. Rose Brock speaks form the perspective of the racism experienced by Black people in Ireland, irrespective of their legal status, and in particular emphasises the specificity of the racism experienced by Black women. Her input also draws attention to the potential of racism in influencing our perceptions of ‘Developing’ countries. She challenged the concept of ‘toleration’ as ‘in my opinion, when you tolerate something, it is because you are uncomfortable with it, uneasy and threatened…I do not want to be tolerated. I want to be affirmed and accepted because I have the right to be.
Section Two concludes with a plenary discussion with points raised by the main body of the conference, including the urgency of ratifying the CERD; the need for a gender dimension ‘up front’ in the development of anti racism policies; the importance of the ‘moral authority’ of politicians in tackling racism; the need to enhance programmes in schools and the urgency of the resources needed to enable NGO’ s to contribute to addressing racism.
Executive Summary: Section Three:
Section Three divides into four themes, which reflect the four themes of the European Preparatory Conference. Each theme was discussed at the conference in workshop format. This section of the conference was introduced by Joan Harbinson, Chief Equality Commissioner in Northern Ireland, whose input highlighted the growing concern about racism in Northern Ireland; the role of the Equality Commission in the North and the importance of the North/South co-operation in tackling racism and developing the broader equality agenda.
The first workshop theme was ‘legal protection against racism.’ An input on this theme is given by Eílís Barry, legal adviser to the Equality Authority. She focuses on how the equality legislation (the Employment Equality Act and the Equal Status Act) tackles discrimination and racism and the implications for this legislation arising out of the EC Directive on racism. She concludes with a number of observations, including the potential of Equality Reviews and Codes of Practice to impact on racism. The second input is from Donncha O Connell, Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, who looks at the potential of other legislation to impact on racism in Ireland, including legislation prohibiting incitement to hatred, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
The second theme is ‘policies and practices against racism’. An overview on this theme is given by Philip Watt, Director of the NCCRI, looks at the need to mainstream and to build on existing policy and to develop a national plan to tackle racism in Ireland. The second input is given by Catherine Clancy, Chief Superintendent in the Community Relations Section of An Garda Síochána (Irish Police), who gives an overview of recent initiatives developed by the Irish police in response to the challenge of policing an intercultural society, in the context of greater awareness of the issues involved within Ireland and European initiatives, such as the Rotterdam Charter (1996). She concludes, ‘The Charter will be the framework on which we will hang our work in this area in the future, however it is only a framework, the strategies, practices and policies, which must be developed around that framework, are our responsibility and challenge.
The third theme is ‘education and awareness to combat racism’. An input on this theme is given by Senator Joe O Toole, General Secretary of the Irish National Teacher’s Organisation, who looks at the overall challenge of building an inclusive and pluralist state in Ireland. He draws attention to the racism experienced by Irish emigrants, which has been well documented and states there is a huge burden of responsibility on us to present the diversity of cultures in Ireland as an enrichment of our society. The second input is from Kensika Monshengwo, Training Officer in the NCCRI who looks at the key elements and approach advocated by the NCCRI in the forthcoming National Public awareness programme to address racism in Ireland. He emphasises the need to adopt a sustainable approach to awareness raising and the importance of the participation and support by NGO’s.
The fourth theme is ‘information, communication and the media’. Inez McCormack President of the Congress of Trade Unions examines the role of information and communication strategies in developing an overall strategy and approach to combat racism. She stresses the need to repeat and express the principles expressed in the Universal Declaration on Human rights, the need for a realizable plan of action to put the principles into practice and to have clear aims of providing standards, structures and remedies. Nuala Haughey, a journalist with the Irish Times newspaper discussed the important role played by the print media in relation to racism, the consequences of irresponsible journalism and outlines possible future strategies aimed at tackling the issues identified. She concludes by saying that the National Union of Journalists is gravely concerned at the influence of market forces on the quality of news and current affairs and the drive to satisfy the lowest common denominator in terms of populist sensationalism.
Section 4 is the final plenary of the conference, which was chaired by Niall Crowley, CEO of the Equality Authority. The summation of the conference concludes that there is strong evidence from the conference of considerable commitment and consensus to addressing racism and the report of the conference might usefully serve to as a means to bring these ideas and experiences to Strasbourg and South Africa, and to provide foundation for a future national action plan in Ireland. The general conclusions and recommendations arising from the conference are as follows:
Executive Summary: Section Four
This section outlines the main conclusions and recommendations from the Preparatory Conference that were drawn from the feedback from the four thematic workshops inputs to the conference and discussions at the conference plenary sessions, and are as follows: