Minister minimises level of racism

 The Minister for Integration John Curran issued a statement in relation to racist crime in Ireland, while announcing the launch of the website of his office.   He refers to the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency report on racism in Ireland.    Tthe Minister referred to the Annual Report of the Fundamental Rights Agency which was reported widely in the national newspapers this morning. This report  drew attention to trends in reported incidents of racism in the period from 2000 to 2007. The figures in the report showed an increase in racist incidents from 72 in 2000 to 224 in 2007 in Ireland. The Minister commented “Any racist attack is to be deplored but what the report does not make clear is that these figures must be seen against a backdropof a phenomenal and unprecedented  increase in the non Irish national population from 224,000 in 2002 to 420,000 in 2006 (i.e an 87%  increase in a period of four years) and I am  glad  that the most recent figures available  show that the incidence of recorded racist crime fell by 21% to 180 reported incidents in 2008 when the estimated number of non Irish nationals (aged 15 years and over ) was 476,100 (CSO QNHS Q.4  2008).” Co-ordinator for Show Racism the Red Card Garrett Mullan said in response: “If these figures were an accurate reflection of the level of racism in Ireland, then the Minister might have a point.  The fact is that racism is woefully underreported in Ireland and the state agencies do not have the systems in place for collecting accurate statistics.  The Minister would be better advised to monitor research from the ESRI which found in 2006, that one in three immigrants to Ireland had experienced racism.  He could also talk to local election candidates from immigrant backgrounds including Patrick Maphoso in Dublin Innter City, Tendai Madondo in Tallaght and others who reported racist abuse both verbal and physical during their campaign. In regards to education, the Minister would be advised to listen to the Teachers Union of Ireland,which found that 25% of teachers had witnessed racism in their classroom in the previous month to their conference this year. Addressing racism is crucial to promoting integration. The Ministers statement show a dangerous complacency in regard to racism especially considering the nature of the economic crisis at the moment and further to the closure of the government’s own National Action Plan Against Racism.  In addition, people experiencing discrimination will be dissuaded from pursuing cases through the equality authority and the tribunal because it is taking longer to process cases.  The data is there when it comes to asking immigrants about their experience of racism.  One can only conclude that there are a variety of systemic failures as to why only 180 incidents were reported in 2008.  I would urge the Minister to talk to those affected and those at the front line and invest in developing a coherent anti-racism policy which involves both appropriate sanctions and a programme of education.  Ignoring racism does not make it go away and nor does it suport a genuine policy of integration”.

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