Anti-racism strategy required

 

Sir, – In the wake of the racist abuse directed at Republic of Ireland player Cyrus Christie following the exit of Ireland’s soccer team from the World Cup play-offs, surely it is time for the Government to revisit the shameful neglect of anti-racism strategies in Ireland.

It is very welcome that the online abuse experienced by Christie has been reported to the Garda. This reporting reflects a long-standing intolerance of racism within the FAI, which has in place a robust anti-racism policy developed as part of the National Action Plan against Racism 2005-2008.

In the wake of this reported abuse and other examples of racism, many that remain unreported, the Government response (if any) will likely be to downplay what is happening on a daily basis within Ireland, or repeat worthy statements of “zero tolerance”. Without taking away from work that is being done by those concerned with equality and human rights in Ireland, it is increasingly clear that moral indignation and reactive legislation should not disguise the fact that since 2008 and the end of the National Plan Against Racism, there has been no coherent nationwide anti-racism strategy in place in Ireland.

Further, there is no longer any one forum that brings together all the key groups experiencing racism in Ireland in a way that was once provided by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) and which could no doubt could be improved upon with a little effort and vision.

Successive governments remain stubbornly complacent on racism in Ireland and frequently gloss over reports of abuse and discrimination. We urgently need to develop pro-active strategies of addressing racism in all its forms, including public awareness and education strategies. All key national organisations should have by now developed active anti-racism and minority participation policies, but unfortunately many have not.

Worse, many do not see any reason for doing so because of lack of leadership at a political level over many years. Fewer still are looking at more complex structural/institutional issues such as indirect discrimination in the job market or access to key services. Does the present membership of the Garda (for example) reflect the growing diversity in our society, and if not, what not? A new national action plan against racism is badly needed and which will require active engagement with all the minority communities experiencing racism in Ireland along with key State and nonState agencies. – Yours, etc,

PHILIP WATT,

(Formerly Director

National Consultative

Committee on Racism

and Interculturalism),

Rathmines, Dublin 6.