'Racial profiling' by gardaí criticised
The report called for the Government to draft and adopt the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill
Campaign groups have welcomed the publication of a report highlighting concerns over racial profiling and the treatment of minority groups in Ireland.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance’s (ECRI) fourth monitoring report on Ireland praised the State’s “good system for registering racist criminal offences” but criticised other areas.
The 47 member human rights body said it was aware of claims that many non-Irish nationals are subjected to police stops and required to produce identity documents, “which in practice can result in racist incidents and the profiling of individuals on the basis of their colour”. It said the Government should “consider adopting legislation prohibiting any form of racial profiling.”
The ECRI also pointed out “significant challenges in relation to adequate accommodation” for Travellers. Local authorities should be more involved in the implementation of the National Traveller/Roma Integration Strategy to meet the housing needs of Travellers, it said.
“The national authorities should envisage introducing measures binding on local authorities and raising awareness among the general public of Traveller accommodation rights and promote respect thereof.”
Traveller rights organisation Pavee Point welcomed the call for “measures binding” on local Authorities to meet the accommodation needs of Travellers.
“We have recently witnessed a regression to times past with the burning of the house allocated for a Traveller family in Ballyshannon last week,” said Martin Collins, the organisation’s co-director. “The silence of the majority of politicians was deafening. Would this silence have pertained if this had happened to any other minority ethnic group in Ireland?”
The report also criticised cuts to Government-funded English language courses for immigrants, particularly children. It noted that 70 to 75 per cent of children for whom English is an adopted language require extra assistance and the cuts mean “Ireland is not very well prepared to help new immigrants enter the school system.”
When The National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism was closed down in December 2008 “the bridge between authorities and the civil society and the unique reporting system about racist incidents was lost”, the report found.
Among its recommendations the ECRI said the Government should draft and adopt the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill as soon as possible “to put in place one procedure for dealing with applications for asylum and subsidiary protection, introduce a long-term residence status and procedures for registration of non-national minors under 16”.
It also called for “a non-judicial independent authority competent to deal with cases of discrimination in the provision of goods and services”.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the report highlights “complacency around racism” and identifies “several areas which require immediate action”.
Chief executive Denise Charlton added “the references in the report about racial profiling are particularly disturbing and unfortunately reflect stories which are relayed to us through our support services on a regular basis.”
The Irish Refugee Council, meanwhile, welcomed the finding that accommodation for asylum seekers is unsuitable for lengthy periods of stay and has a negative impact on family life. The council reiterated ECRI’s call for a review of the system, known as Direct Provision, “to give families greater control over their everyday lives”.
Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) said the report comes at a time when the government is drafting key legislation for people seeking access to justice. “We would urge the government to pay very close heed to ECRI’s recommendations,” said director general Noeline Blackwell.