Towards the Global Summit on Racism and European Preparatory Conference; Report of the Ireland
Conclusions, Recommendations and Final Plenary
Conclusions and Recommendations
Chair: Niall Crowley, CEO Equality Authority
This part of the report outlines the key conclusions and recommendations arising from the conference, including the key issues arising from the workshops.
The work of the conference is neither a beginning nor an end of a process. It reflects work done on the issue of racism by so many groups over the past decade. The consensus achieved is a reflection of this solid foundation. It looks forward to further dialogue together on the outcomes of the Council of Europe meeting, the aspirations for the Global Summit, and the implementation of the Global Summit conclusions.
The conference discussions not only reflect a significant consensus on what needs to be done about racism. They provide evidence of a widespread commitment to addressing racism in Irish society. This is a commitment that should find expression at the European and Global meetings.
Mention has been made during the conference of the need for a national action plan on racism. The range of ideas and experiences that have been explored at the conferences will be developed into a report. This report might usefully serve not only to take these ideas and experiences forward to Strasbourg and South Africa but also as a foundation for a future national action plan.
Before identifying some of the dominant themes that have come through the conference it is useful to reflect on what appear to be agreed points. These include that:
Under the legal heading of core theme emerging is one of adequate legislation and adequate remedies. The importance of, and need for, building on and enhancing the current legislative base was stressed. Of particular interest are commitments to review the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, to transpose the EU directive on racism into Irish Law and to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The need to focus on outcomes is stressed in relation to the heading of policy and practice. Positive action emerges as a key theme here with the challenge to address the impact of past discrimination and to the implications of cultural diversity. Institutional change and mainstreaming is another key theme to emerge. Mainstreaming involves:-
A final theme that emerges under this heading lies in the field of global relationships. Trade, aid and debt policies can generate global inequalities that feed racist stereotypes. These are issues of particular importance to a global conference on racism.
Our exploration of the education and awareness heading highlighted the strong inter-relationship and overlap between the four headings chosen for the Council of Europe Conference. Early intervention, an anti-racist dimension to lifelong learning and curriculum development are identified as the key themes in relation to the provision of education. Another theme that emerges under this heading relates to changing the ethos of institutions. This requires adequate programmes of anti-racist training with clear links to institutional policy making and practice.
The final heading focused our attention on the media. The first theme emerging is the need for media that empowers. This is media where Black and minority ethnic reporters are employed and where Black and minority ethnic perspectives and issues are heard. A second key theme is the need to address irresponsible media. This is media that is careless in its use of language, that reinforces stereotypes and that engages in hate speech.
This has been a conference about change. Its focus is about doing things differently. It raises the need for a vision of our society into the future. It challenges us all to define and put in place the building blocks for an intercultural society.
It is a conference that has inspired for its clarity of agenda, for the strength of anti-racist commitment and for the diversity of voices expressing this commitment. The foundations now in place and the energy and commitment that have been evidenced are a crucial starting point for a society that not only affirms diversity but also teases out the practical implications of this diversity and incorporates these into the way we do business as a society. This gives hope that the future of an intercultural society can be realised.
Maria McLoughlin, from the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation said that hoped that the conference was not the end of the consultation process as more time was needed to discuss the issues raised. She further stressed the need for the governmental representatives in Strasbourg and South Africa to take an active role in Strasbourg and South Africa and to take on board the conclusions from the conference.
Leigh O’Flaherty, from the Basic Rights Federation said there was a lot of talk about education. But the basic starting point I think is that we are all human beings, and. unless there is mutual respect, one for the other, there’s no point talking about anti-racism. A further speaker stated that I think if we are serious about consultation we need to ensure a strong regional dimension to such consultation and that national policies to address racism, need a regional dimension.
Brian Ryan, Educational Officer with Trocáire agreed with Maria McLoughlin and he hoped this would not be the last stage in the consultation process and there was insufficient time in the workshops to discuss the important issues that were raised.
Mairin Kenny, a researcher with Pavee Point pointed to the inadequate recognition in the Education Act on the issue of promoting interculturalism and tackling racism
Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the NCCRI stressed that the conference was a start rather than the end of a process. She said that what was fundamentally important is that a clear message with regard to our commitment from all quarters in Irish society both to address racism here and to contribute to addressing it elsewhere is put on the agenda. She reiterated the NCCRI’s commitment to organising further feedback and information after Strasbourg and to work towards organising further meetings next year prior to the South African Conference.
Síobhan O’Donoghue, from the Community Workers Co-op said there is a challenge to ensure that we develop anti-racist strategies as part of mainstream economic and social policies, that we don’t end up in a situation where other policies and strategies can reinforce the exclusion experienced by minority ethnic groups.
Piaras MacÉinrí stated that the level of on going funding for essential research in this area is virtually non-existent. If we do not have good sensitive research being done and done in collaboration with ethnic minorities themselves we simply cannot formulate good policy.
Evaluation of the Conference by Participants
The following is a summary of an evaluation survey undertaken by the NCCRI on the conference. The NCCRI wishes to acknowledge and thank those that responded to the survey (one fifth of those who attended), which will help inform future organisation of conferences.
The main outcomes of the evaluation of the national preparatory conference indicate the following: