Call for legislation to tackle problem of racist crime

Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 00:00

Ireland needs to legislate for and define racist crime, according to a report due to be launched by the Integration Centre on Tuesday.

Among the points made in the wide-ranging report, the centre states that there is no agreed definition on racist crime and that racism is not legally an aggravating factor in crime in Ireland. It suggests that racism be introduced as an aggravating factor in sentencing.

The chief executive of the Integration Centre, Killian Forde, said this would bring Ireland into line with European norms. “We think racism itself should be a standalone indictable offence. The only Act we have is the Incitement to Hatred Act which dates back to 1989 and which is rarely used,” he said. “As well as punishing those who engage in racism, it would send a very clear message to society that Ireland has a zero tolerance policy towards racism,” he said.

In relation to education Mr Forde said cuts to the number of EAL (English as a second language) teachers showed a “flagrant disregard” for young migrants already underperforming in English and maths.

The group suggests that intensive summer courses and after-school programmes should be put in place to improve educational outcomes for children from non-English speaking backgrounds.

It also suggests using underemployed teachers and trainee teachers for summer and after-school programmes.

The report identifies 37 barriers to integration in Ireland and offers 80 possible solutions to them, the majority of which, it says, could be put in place at little or no cost to the State.

Dr Walter Kindermann, director general for integration affairs with the Hessian ministry of justice in Germany, will speak at the launch of the report on Tuesday.