Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.21 4 Jun 2019


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Ireland has been urged to take action against local authorities that fail to spend money allocated for providing accommodation for Travellers.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has also called on authorities here to enact new legislation on hate speech and hate crime.

These two priority recommendations form part of its fifth report on Ireland.

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Progress towards implementing these recommendations will be reviewed by the ECRI in two years' time.

The report highlighted a number of positive developments in recent years - including the formal recognition of Travellers as an indigenous ethnic group, the legalisation of same-sex marriage and a new law allowing transgender people to officially change their name and gender through self-determination.

It also welcomed the creation of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the duty imposed on public authorities to have due regard to human rights and equality in their work.

But the ECRI expressed concern that "the majority of local authorities have consistently failed to provide adequate and culturally-appropriate accommodation for Travellers."

The report said Ireland should impose "dissuasive sanctions" on local authorities for failure to spend funding allocated for Traveller accommodation or, alternatively, to remove this responsibility from local authorities and to place it under the remit of a central housing commission.

"Low-level racist violence"

ECRI also stated that hate speech involving verbal abuse in public places is quite common in Ireland - and that there was "an undercurrent of low-level racist violence" which was not adequately recorded or addressed.

At the same time, it said there were no provisions in Irish criminal law defining common offences of a racist or homo/transphobic nature as specific offences - nor were racist or other hateful motivation considered to be an aggravating circumstance.

And the report said that the existing Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act was "seldom used" and was particularly ineffectual in combating online hate speech.

Other issues raised in the report included the fact that Ireland has not renewed its National Action Plan against Racism, which ended in 2008.

Direct provision accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees also continued to present major concerns - related to the length of stay, overcrowding, the inability to conduct normal family life and harassment experienced by LGBT asylum seekers.

The report's recommendations include a national housing strategy being developed, setting out measures to generate supply of affordable housing and combat racial discrimination, with particular attention paid to the needs of all vulnerable communities in the country - including Travellers, Roma, migrants and refugees.

It also said new hate speech and hate crime legislation should be enacted in consultation with civil society actors.

While a new and updated strategy against racism should be developed with "a strong focus" on reducing prejudice against the most vulnerable and targeted communities.

The ECRI is a human right monitoring body which specialises in questions relating to the fight against racism and discrimination on several grounds.

This includes race, ethnic/national origin, colour, citizenship, religion, language, sexual orientation and gender identity.


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Council Of Europe ECRI European Commission Against Racism And Intolerance Ireland Irish Human Rights And Equality Commission Local Authorities Racist Violence Report Same-sex Marriage Sanctions Transgender People Traveller Traveller Accommodation

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