I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 163 together.
The Government is firmly committed to combating and challenging any and all manifestations of racism and welcomes the contribution which the Immigrant Council of Ireland and others are making to this work.
I understand that the reports to which the Deputies' questions refer are preliminary figures released by the Immigrant Council on 7 December 2013 which indicated that 142 racist incidents had been reported to the Council between January and 7 December 2013. That figure compared with 77 racist incidents reported to the Council in the corresponding period in 2012. The report also indicated that the majority of incidents involved verbal harassment (35%), written harassment (17%), non-verbal harassment e.g offensive look or gesture (7%), discrimination and social inclusion (24%), property damage and racist graffiti (7%). Nine per cent of incidents involved physical violence.
Ireland was one of the first states in the EU and, indeed, in the world in developing a National Action Plan Against Racism. When the National Action Plan Against Racism was launched in 2005, it was conceived as a four-year programme to run until the end of 2008. It was designed to provide strategic direction towards developing a more intercultural and inclusive society in Ireland and was also integration driven. Under the Plan, support was provided towards the development of a number of national and local strategies promoting greater integration in our workplaces, in An Garda Síochána, the health service, in our education system, in the arts and sports sectors and within our local authorities. The National Action Plan therefore continues to inform ongoing work.
The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration in my Department maintains the Government's commitment and focus on anti-racism as a key aspect of integration, diversity management and broader national social policy. The Office continues to work with all the relevant sectors to further progress the integration and diversity management agenda. Many of the initiatives which were instigated through the National Action Plan against Racism 2005-2008 continue to be developed and progressed through the support and work of the Office.
A review of our approach to the integration of migrants was recently launched. This review is intended to provide the basis for a new and updated integration strategy in keeping with the Government’s commitment to the integration of migrants and will embrace the issue of racism. A consultation process was also commenced on 28 March 2014. A considerable number of submissions have already been received from stakeholders, a number of whom will be invited to engage directly with the Cross-Departmental Group on Integration charged with updating the integration strategy. I expect that the Draft Integration Strategy, when developed, will include a strong anti-racism component.