Government urged to 'tackle' Garda views on ethnic groups
Negative attitudes among gardaí to ethnic minorities and reports of racial profiling in stop and searches must be addressed, according to the State’s human rights body.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has called on the Government to prohibit any racial profiling in An Garda Síochána and introduce an independent complaints mechanism.
It also wants “specific targets” in recruiting people from ethnic minorities into the police force.
In a detailed set of recommendations to Ireland’s first National Action Plan Against Racism, due later this year, the commission also called for:
- An implementation body to correct the “slow progress” in transferring school patronage from the Catholic church — and sanctions for “inadequate implementation”;
- Effective and proportionate sanctions for internet companies that fail to adhere to take-down procedures for removing online hate speech and other illegal content;
- Measures to combat labour market discrimination, which “is prevalent” for minority ethnic groups;
- Traveller-focused suicide prevention supports.
Racial discrimination leaves a trail of human destruction for those targeted, which can lead to substance abuse, depression, thoughts of suicide, and people cutting themselves off from public services,” IHREC chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney said.
“The commission has heard directly how mental health problems among ethnic minority children and young people are ‘not taken seriously enough’.”
She said that for the plan to be effective, there have to be clear targets, time frames, and budgets, with independent evaluation.
“We see a need for prioritisation of policing and law enforcement in the content of Ireland’s National Action Plan Against Racism,” Ms Gibney said.
While welcoming measures taken by An Garda Síochána in relation human rights, the IHREC report wants to see a “greater sense of urgency”.
It has called for specific targets for diversity in recruitment and evaluation of promotion policies to address under-representation of minorities.
“There are negative attitudes amongst Garda members towards minority ethnic groups, as well as reports of racial profiling in the use of stop and search powers, including reports from young minority ethnic people," it said.
The commission recommends the Government prioritise legislation to prohibit racial profiling and take measures to address it, including an independent complaints mechanism.
Garda HQ produced a Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy in October 2019, including a definition of hate crime. Last July, it introduced a new online hate crime reporting system.
Last December, it published the Garda's Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Statement & Action Plan 2020-2021, which included measures in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce.
IHREC said NGO reports indicate that racism in society increased in 2020, with a particular growth in online racism via social media. It also noted “the escalation in incidents of far-right rhetoric and racist hate crime”.
It urged the Hate Crime Bill 2021 be given “absolute priority” from Government in terms of enactment and full commencement.
It said it has consistently highlighted “the persistence of institutional racism” and a culture of discrimination against Travellers, which gave rise to increasingly "urgent concerns".
The commission added: “Young people of African descent reported that racism and racial discrimination are widespread in their daily life in the education system.”