Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (195)

Finian McGrath

Question:

195. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding an incident of racism. [26314/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I sympathise with the person who has written to the Deputy about the problem of racism which she has encountered and I fully share her view on the need to use every effort to combat this. Racism such as is evidenced here is completely unacceptable and a source of serious concern to me. In my Presidency capacity at EU level during the first six months of this year, I very specifically raised this issue with my EU Ministerial colleagues with a view to establishing a mechanism to better support protection of fundamental rights and the Rule of Law in Member States by sharing best practice, monitoring standards and formulating appropriate recommendations and guidelines for action across the Union as an effective response to this problem.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment that we will promote policies which integrate minority ethnic groups in Ireland, and which promote social inclusion, equality, diversity and the participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities. A significant level of activity is taking place in pursuit of this commitment. A number of key departments and agencies have developed specific strategies to ensure that their services respond to Ireland’s changed demographic in an interculturally competent and inclusive manner. The strategies developed include: an Intercultural Health Strategy; an Intercultural Education Strategy; a Cultural and Arts Policy and Strategy; the Garda Síochána Diversity Strategy; and an Action Strategy for Integrated Workplaces.

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration has responsibility for leading and coordinating work relating to the integration of legally resident immigrants. The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration continues to work with many sectors including An Garda Síochána, local authorities, sporting bodies, Government Departments, the social partners and broader civil society including cultural and ethnic minorities, to further progress the integration and diversity management agenda.

Funding has been provided to a number of local authorities around the country and local programmes have been undertaken to educate the public on issues such as immigration, integration and anti-racism. For example, Dublin City Council ran an anti-racism campaign on the Dublin transport system in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 using funding provided by the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration. Dublin City Council also support a number of festivals supporting diversity such as the Chinese New Year and the Indian Diwali 'festival of lights'.

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration also provided support to an NGO called Show Racism the Red Card to run a creative competition for school children in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Funding was also provided to the Holocaust Educational Trust for educational initiatives that teach children the dangers of racism and the importance of integration and tolerance. Further details of the work done by this Office in the area of managing diversity and combatting racism including details of the funding granted to promote integration between the established and immigrant communities is available at www.integration.ie.

The Garda Racial, Intercultural and Diversity Office is also constantly working through community engagement to urge people to come forward and report any suspected racist crime to their local Gardaí. It advises the public about the existence of Ethnic Liaison Officers and also of the services available to victims of hate crime at the Garda Racial Intercultural and Diversity Office. The services of Ethnic Liaison Officers are advertised on the Garda website and appointed officers are named with details of their station.

The Deputy's correspondent may also wish to consult the links on the website at http://www.integration.ie/ where she will note the many non-governmental organisations active in this field. She might also consider bringing her concerns and ideas to the attention of one or more of such bodies.