Campaigning to Combat Racism
Racism is a reality for migrant and ethnic minorities living in Ireland. Racism is a significant barrier to integration and limits opportunities for building a cohesive and connected society based on mutual respect and equality.
Many types of racist incidents do not constitute a crime under Irish law, and they are often not recorded by the Gardai.
Awareness of the existing equality infrastructure is low among immigrant and ethnic minority residents and real experiences of racism and discrimination are often not reflected in official statistics. As a lead organisation in the Cork City Integration Strategy, Nasc has worked for several years with its partner organisations in Cork to promote integration and combat racism.
Nasc’s third party racist reporting mechanism emerged as a result of concerns about underreporting of racist incidents. Since the establishment of the racist reporting mechanism, we have seen a noted increase in reports of online racism.
Online racism is an area that is fast becoming a concern as, from our experience, it is very difficult to monitor and even more difficult to prosecute. Nasc made a submission to the Committee on Transport and Communications during their hearings on social media cyberbullying calling for the need to tackle online racism, which were included in the Committee’s final report.
In November 2012, Nasc published a report, Stop the Silence: A Snapshot of Racism in Cork, which analysed the racist reports received by Nasc since the establishment of the mechanism in 2011 and included a snapshot survey on people’s attitudes to racism in Cork. The report also included a critical analysis of the existing legal and policy framework in Ireland, and its failures in addressing the persistent problem of racism and under-reporting of racist incidents. The findings in the report showed significant failures in the existing criminal provisions for prosecuting racist and hate crimes.
Unlike other jurisdictions, there is no specific offence in our criminal law to deal with racially aggravated offences. The robustness of a State’s policy and legislation in this sphere can serve as a barometer of a State’s concern with racist crime. Racial attacks are very serious in their nature; they impact not only on the individual but on communities as a whole, and serve to severely undermine societal cohesion. A strong legal framework sends a clear message that racism will not be tolerated. The introduction of a specific provision to deal with racially aggravated offences coupled with clear sentencing guidelines covering racially motivated crimes would send out a strong signal that racism is not tolerated in this jurisdiction. In addition, the introduction of a provision to ensure ‘a proportionate and dissuasive penalty where racist or xenophobic motivation is an aggravating circumstance’ is required to ensure Ireland’s compliance with the EU Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2008).
As part of Nasc’s ongoing work to combat racism and promote integration, we are asking people to support our call for legislative and policy reform. To find out more information about our campaign, read our Policy Brief on reforming the criminal and civil provisions in Ireland.
In 2015, Nasc launched a ‘Racist Incident Hate Map‘ to monitor and document incidents of racism from around the country, which have been reported to Nasc. The objective of the Hate Map is to document these incidents in order to push for legislative and policy change to tackle racism and hate crime. The map can be viewed here.
Nasc is concerned to ensure that the Department of Justice demonstrates a clear commitment to ensuring that the policing mechanisms of the Irish state remain fair and impartial. Recent reports published by Nasc, including Stop the Silence and In From the Margins – Roma in Ireland, document our concerns about ethnic profiling of migrant and ethnic minority communities by An Garda Síochána.
Only An Garda Síochána can effectively monitor whether active policing affects some sections of the population more than others. Routine reports of formal Garda interaction with members of the public should include the ethnic profile of the persons affected. This would facilitate access by the force and by its policy-makers to reliable and comparable data on minorities and policing in Ireland.
Nasc has worked closely with An Garda Síochána, especially Community Policing in Cork and the Garda Racial, Intercultural and Diversity Office, to develop intercultural awareness training for Gardai, with a specific focus on measures to tackle racism and ethnic profiling. A manual we developed following our Pilot Training is available here. If you would like a print copy of the manual, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Garda Training Manual’ in the subject line.