In July 1998 I established a national consultative committee on racism and interculturalism. The Committee is a partnership of Government Departments, agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The objective of the committee is to provide an ongoing structure to develop programmes and actions aimed at developing an integrated approach against racism and to advise the Government on matters relating to racism. The committee will also endeavour to promote a more participative and intercultural society which is inclusive of persons such as travellers and minority ethnic groups. Funds of £21,000 were provided by the consultative committee to fund its programme of activities in 1998 and an allocation of £90,000 has been provided in 1999.
The approach of the consultative committee builds on and develops the initiative begun by the national co-ordinating committee of the European Year Against Racism in 1997. During that year the co-ordinating committee provided a grant of £1,000 to the voluntary group, referred to by the Deputy to fund initiatives against racism. No similar financial assistance was available in 1998. As part of its programme for 1999, the national consultative committee will encourage and support initiatives from organisations and groups, including sports groups, which are involved in appropriate activities to combat racism.