We need more diversity among Gardaí and other public service workers to help tackle racism in Irish society, according to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
The report sets out over 130 recommendations aimed at tackling racism in areas like policing, education, media, politics, employment and healthcare.
It warns that minorities can still face barriers to accessing public services in Ireland and calls for “systematic training and more diverse recruitment” in the Gardai, courts services, healthcare and teaching professions.
On Breakfast Briefing this morning, Commission Chair Sinéad Gibney reduced access to public services is a real issue.
“Really one of the places people experience racism is in their access to public services and that is a huge problem because it creates barriers to integration and participation in public life and to access to the basic needs that people have,” she said.
“It is really important people are culturally sensitive to the needs of people who are accessing the services that any public body provides.
“So, we would like to see that kind of training evident across the public sector - particularly in areas like policing. What it also means is that those organisations need to start better reflecting the public they serve.”
Ms Gibney said the report includes specific recommendations for the Gardaí – calling for the “recruitment, retention and advancement of a diverse police service that fully reflects the diversity of Irish society.”
She said An Garda Síochána currently doesn’t provide enough data on its interactions with minority groups – but noted that there are “attitudinal issues among Garda members that we would like to see addressed.”
“What we do know from the people who talk to us is that there are reports of racial profiling – that young people, particularly young black people feel they are being racially profiled,” she said.
“So, we need An Garda Siochana to provide us with that data that will allow us to monitor that.
“A good example of that would be how during COVID, we have been calling throughout the crisis for better reporting on how Gardaí have been enforcing the regulations and how it was impacting on specific groups.
“Although later in the pandemic that reporting did start to come out, it wasn’t comprehensive, and it wasn’t there for the full duration.”
Ms Gibney noted that there is a “lot of frustration” among minority groups about reports that come out and are not acted upon.
“I worry on behalf of the groups who experience racism who are really at their wit's end,” she said.
“I met recently with representative groups of the Traveller community and it is really heart-breaking to hear the frustration and the exasperation - report after report after report talking about these issues and a failure to act on it.
“This one has an opportunity to change things. I do see this as a really strong mechanism to get full mobilisation across Irish society and the State to tackle racism.
“If we do it; if we choose as a country to prioritise anti-racism, to really commit ourselves to dealing with it, we could have such a reward at the end.
“A really diverse integrated society that is rich in so many different ethnicities and cultures represented so I really think it is something we should all be working towards.”