Ireland and Elimination of Racism in 2015 & a year of failed opportunities by the Irish Government to make needed changes by Denise O’ Toole (R.O.I.A.R) & PBP Sligo

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is globally observed annually on 21 March with many events taking place worldwide. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the United Nation's General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. 48 years later  Ireland has certainly made a poor or some would say a downright shameful attempt to do so.

Fast forward to Ireland 2015 surely a country that has the means and laws to tackle racism? You may be surprised; sadly this is not true Ireland with decades of monetary focused governments who placed very little value on social justice has produced shameful and minimal legislation to protect victims of racism immigration & people trafficking.  Ireland in the past decade or so has found itself experiencing growing cultural diversity and change but is unable to protect people from racism and hate crimes .Integration into Irish society is made impossible by government policy such as direct provision and a vote we had which amended our constitution in 2011 which stops Irish born children of immigrants becoming Irish citizens.
 As austerity measures have been creating increasing poverty and social problems so the targeting of minority groups and immigrants grows and in some cases it would be said is used as a tactic by a failing government to take the focus from their unpopularity and is distracting the voters attention to their selling the countries national resources off to the highest bidders in line with their neo liberal agenda. After a lengthy recession which saw the rise of the far right and of fascism again in Europe this crisis is also being used as fuel to further fascist agendas with social media being used to spread the destructive message of far right groups . In Ireland this year we see the launch of political party Identity Ireland; we see groups on facebook like Irish voice. Those of us resisting this fascism will know they have unsuccessfully tried to organise demonstrations on Dublin and Waterford.


As a founder of a voluntary online anti racism group I seem to have embarked on an alice in wonderland type adventure of the most surreal order by trying to understand how racist crimes are dealt with in Ireland, nothing is what it seems and convictions are pitifully low. Unlike our neighbours in the UK Ireland has no race relation act .This was signed into law into the UK IN 1976. This act outlawed discrimination racial grounds and followed closely the C.E.R.D  Conventions definition of racial discrimination.

The C.E.R.D Convention on the elimination of all form of racial discrimination  was adopted and opened for signature by the United Nations General Assemblyon 21 December 1965,[8] and entered into force on 4 January 1969. As of April 2013, it had 87 signatories and 177 parties. The Convention covers the legislative, judicial, administrative or other measures that need to be implemented to give effect to its provisions. 

Ireland and the ICERD

Ireland signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1968. Following the enactment of the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000, the Convention was ratified by Ireland in December 2000 and entered into force in Jan 2001 whereupon it became binding on Ireland in international law. At the time of ratification of the Convention, a reservation/interpretative declaration was entered in relation to Article 4 of the Convention.


Ireland's combined Fifth to Seventh periodic reports to the UNCERD Committee were due to be submitted in 2014 from the quote below from Department of Justice and Equality’s Office for the promotion of migrant integration:

’Tackling racism and promoting diversity is not just the responsibility of Government. Everybody in Irish society, including individuals, organisations, businesses, Governmental and non- Governmental Organisations have a responsibility to address racism and its impact on the people who experience it. 

Ireland has been severely criticised for not ratifying the cerd of 2009 because they will not recognise Irish travellers as an ethnic minority. Two famous cases in the U.K Mandlavs Dowelle & O leary and others vs. Allied Domeac and others ironically have lead to the UK recognising Irish travellers as en ethnic minority and affording them more human rights than in Ireland

Other main Irish legislation which directly or indirectly affects racism includes:

The Prohibition of Incitement of hatred act 1989    

The Criminal Justice Act 1994

The refugee act 1996

Non fatal offences against the person act 97

Criminal Damage act

In his report to the equality authority in Sept 2010 Seamus Taylor, Lecturer in Maynooth (Applied Social Studies) identifies and laid out clearly and objectively facts and changes which need to be made by the government.This is practically a blueprint on how to make real change why has it been so ignored??

  Members of Irish society  need become more aware of how little our politicians have done to help eliminate racism through legislation over the past 48 years and that this out of date legislation will remain ineffective and unhelpful to our society in Ireland now and in the future. As an unfunded voluntary group we have no agenda , no criteria to satisfy. We are a group of people who frequently use the media and recognise the educational value that new media and social media can be used for. We are using the internet to create awareness and inform people about racism & social issues in Ireland.



  Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald declared that' Ireland is taking its fair share of migrants’. The reality is that Ireland is opposed to taking refugees whilst our government scapegoats them in its media using them propaganda for all of our society’s ills.... Contrary to popular myth Ireland does not have a migrant crisis or an asylum seeker crisis. 2013 Euro stat confirmed that Ireland ranked last out all EU countries in granting Refugee status to be asylum seekers. But what we did do was setup and farm out 34 direct provision centres to greedy business people who have made over 17 million on profit from them. In these 34 direct provision centres   refugees can spend on average of 4 years getting their paperwork processed, they are not allowed work and receive 19.10 a week with 9.60 per child. a week to live on. Children make up 1/3 of Ireland Direct provision population with some knowing no other existence. They are also not allowed attend university whilst awaiting their status. There is no evidence that refugees have any desire to live on social welfare. This deeply inhumane system has seen lives destroyed and corruption continued and celebrated as good economics by the Irish Elite.



Since originally writing this we have gone on to witness the worst refugee crisis Europe has seen since the Second World War. Politicians and leaders through the media & social media have pushed a biased discourse and dangerous narrative. Language is being used which uses phrases like: mass migration, terrorists and swarms /floods of migrants. This narrative has taken hold due to the majority rightwing ownership of the press this diverts public attention to what the real problems are.

Even before the EUs current struggles to formulate a more harmonised response to the crisis record numbers of people began arriving at its sea and land borders and the Schengen/ Dublin system was under pressure.  Xenophobic governments in Eastern Europe are now overtly rejecting refugees, Western European states have been likewise reluctant to respond humanely to their needs .Unfortunately Ireland is no exception in this regard. Dara Murphy minister of State Ireland said on national radio’ he could not see Ireland having much appetite for a quota system. 


Ireland is suffering politically from a cognitive dissonance as on the one hand we have a pride in the Irish navy for heroically rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean and on the other a violent abusive rejectionist stance against people whom from in the past we have profited and whose countries our Government and its European political and USA corporate allies have succeeded in destroying.  This most obviously includes Britain Germany and France but also Ireland with its allowing the US military to use Shannon Airport. Even as this is written the Irish Government  is still breaching its neutrality by making Shannon airport available to US military aircraft for the purpose of transmitting arms, military personnel and military prisoners for torture in other courtiers, yes other countries . Through this action Ireland is complicit in the destabilisation and destruction of the Middle East and the other countries the USA profits from wars with. Ireland must immediately respond to this and the calls for #stopthewar and #stopbombingsyria must be heard by our politicians.

We need to make a start for humanity by actually accepting “our fair share” as opposed to brutalising people in direct provision.

Fundamentally neither refugees nor migrants are a threat at all. If they were allowed to work they would contribute to our societies and to help improve them. Irish people are in a position to understand this as through emigration we have made positive contributions to societies we have joined. We need to make a start for humanity by actually accepting “our fair share” as opposed to brutalising people in direct provision.

 If they were allowed to work they would contribute to our societies and to help improve them. We need to make a start for humanity by actually accepting “our fair share” as opposed to brutalising people in direct provision. 

As long as fears are stoked up about migrant / refugees establishment politicians right across Europe can blame them on our own problems. Refugees did not because the homeless crisis, this was caused by lack of social housing, high rents and bank repossessions caused by our own. Refugees could easily be drawn into being part of our solutions.

It does not have to be one or the other homeless people or refugees. We have more in common with them than the bankers, the corrupt government and rich elite1 % who will are being let off the hook .Ireland is the 16th richest country in the world with the wealthiest people enjoying a massive €35 billion increase in their fortunes.


All we want for Christmas is a government who will in 2016 end direct provision, for traveller ethnicity to be recognised and our outdated legislation to be reformed. 

The general election in early 2016 will be our version of a Christmas list to our government .Let them know that we demand change and will not accept a bag of ashes.