Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Ireland

23 February 2011

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered the combined third and fourth periodic report of Ireland on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Presenting the report, Diarmund Cole, Director General of the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs of the Ministry of Integration, Equality and Human Rights, said that Ireland was committed to the Convention and to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination process. He said the most striking development in preparing the report had been the change in the migration patterns over the period; initially there had been a large amount of immigration which then changed to the resumption of emigration due to economic circumstances. Mr. Cole announced that a national census would take place in April 2011 and until data from that census became available next year, the number of non-Irish nationals living in Ireland could only be estimated. The Central Statistics Office had indicated that in the third quarter of 2010 there were 393,700 non-Irish nationals aged 15 and older living in Ireland. Current data showed that there were people from 188 different countries living in Ireland with a wide range of cultural identities and religious beliefs.
Mr. Cole highlighted some of the developments that had occurred in Ireland since the country report was submitted to the Committee in December 2009 including: the development of a National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence for the period 2010 to 2014; work on the National Women’s Strategy 2007 to 2016; the publication of an intercultural Education Strategy aimed at supporting and improving quality, relevance and inclusiveness for every school student; a free pre-school year offered to all young children from 3 years and 3 months to 4 and a half years of age; continued implementation of a national intercultural health strategy; a government bill that criminalizes female genital mutilation; the ratification of the convention on transnational organized crime and the optional protocol to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking; initiation of a human rights training education project in March 2010; and a ministerial council on migrant integration to directly advise the Minister for Integration, Equality and Human Rights on issues faced by migrants in Ireland. Mr. Cole further stated that in order to meet international obligations in the area of asylum the State had allocated significant resources over the years to the asylum determination structures and to the provision of services to asylum seekers.
During the interactive discussion Committee Experts raised questions and asked for further information on issues regarding, among other things, the plight of minorities in face of the current financial crisis in the country, the incorporation of the Convention into Irish domestic legislation, the primacy of international law over domestic law, the lack of a mandate for the Ombudsman on immigration issues, the training of judges in the realm of racism and discrimination, and measures taken to guarantee a stable status for women who were victims of domestic violence and other marriage-related abuse. Experts expressed concern as to why the delegation had not included the views of civil society in the report regarding the plight of the Irish Traveller community even though the latter were actively involved in the consultations.

In preliminary concluding remarks, Nourredine Amir, Committee Expert serving as country Rapporteur for the report of Ireland, conveyed the Committee’s solidarity with Ireland and hoped that the State would come out of this situation stronger than before and to that end, the Expert expressed the wish to see the questions of discrimination in Ireland speedily resolved. Mr. Amir noted the State’s unwillingness to incorporate the Convention into domestic law as well its unwillingness to withdraw its reservations to Articles 4 and 14. He also noted that according to the government the issue of racial discrimination did not form an adequate basis for it to be punishable by the penal code.

The delegation of Ireland included representatives from the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs; the Department of Justice and Law Reform; the Department of Education and Skills; the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will present its written observations and recommendations on the third and fourth periodic reports of Ireland, which were presented in one document, at the end of its session, which concludes on 11 March.

When the Committee reconvenes at 3 p.m. this afternoon it is scheduled to take up the eighteenth through twentieth periodic reports of Spain (CERD/C/ESP/18-20).

Report of Ireland

The combined third and fourth periodic report of Ireland states that of the 4.17 million usually resident persons present in the State on 23 April 2006, 420,000 (or 10 per cent) had a nationality other than Irish, up from 224,000 (or 5.8 per cent) four years earlier. The non-Irish national population had a strikingly different demographic profile to that of the Irish. The non-Irish were dominated by people in their twenties and thirties with significantly more men than women. The sex ratio disparity was most noticeable among the younger age groups, where the largest numbers were found, though there were more men than women in every age group below 70 years (except for the 15–19 age group). Approximately two thirds of the population increase in the years up to April 2006 was accounted for by migration. Nearly half of the immigrants were nationals of the 12 new European Union accession states. These and other figures indicate the complexity of ethnic and cultural identity in Ireland, which can include some or all of the following: nationality, place of birth, language, regional affinity and religion.

The report further states that the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service was established in April 2005 in order to provide a ‘one stop shop’ in relation to asylum, immigration, citizenship and visas. On 1 May 2008, the then Minister for Integration published a statement on integration policy called “Migration Nation: Statement on Integration Strategy and Diversity Management”. This document recognises that a key challenge facing Government and Irish society is the imperative to integrate people of different cultures, ethnicity, language and religion so that they become the new Irish citizens of the 21st century. The new integration policy focuses on the role of local authorities, sporting bodies, faith-based groups and political parties in building integrated communities and targets funding in these areas.

It should be noted, as already indicated in Ireland’s initial and second periodic reports, that in recent years some of the bodies representing Travellers have sought explicit recognition of Travellers by the State as an ethnic minority. The Irish Government’s view is that Travellers do not constitute a distinct group from the population as a whole in terms of race, colour, descent or ethnic origin. However, the Government of Ireland accepts the right of Travellers to their cultural identity, regardless of whether the Traveller community may be properly described as an ethnic group. In line with this, the Government is committed to applying the protections afforded to ethnic minorities by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination equally to Travellers. Travellers in Ireland have the same civil and political rights as other citizens under the constitution and there is no restriction on any such group to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion or to use their own language. The Government of Ireland is committed to challenging discrimination against Travellers and has defined membership of the Traveller Community as a separate ground on which it is unlawful to discriminate under equality legislation.

The Irish Government is firmly committed to promoting an inclusive society and the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. The Irish Government is confident that the submission of this report will facilitate another open, frank and constructive dialogue between the State Party and the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the progress made and the challenges ahead in the fight against racism.
Presentation of Report
In presenting the periodic report of Ireland, DIARMUID COLE, Director General of the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs of the Ministry of Integration, Equality and Human Rights, said that Ireland was committed to the Convention and to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination process. He said the most striking development in preparing the report had been the change in the migration patterns over the period; initially there had been a large amount of immigration which then changed to the resumption of emigration due to economic circumstances. Mr. Cole announced that a national census would take place in April 2011 and until data from that census became available next year, the number of non-Irish nationals living in Ireland could only be estimated. The Central Statistics Office had indicated that in the third quarter of 2010 there were 393,700 non-Irish nationals aged 15 and older living in Ireland. Current data showed that there were people from 188 different countries living in Ireland with a wide range of cultural identities and religious beliefs.
Mr. Cole highlighted some of the developments that had occurred in Ireland since the country report was submitted to the Committee in December 2009, including: the development of a National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence for the period 2010 to 2014; work on the National Women’s Strategy 2007 to 2016; the publication of an intercultural Education Strategy aimed at supporting and improving quality, relevance and inclusiveness for every school student; a free pre-school year offered to all young children from 3 years and 3 months to 4 and a half years of age; continued implementation of a national intercultural health strategy; a government bill that criminalizes female genital mutilation; the ratification of the convention on transnational organized crime and the optional protocol to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking; initiation of a human rights training education project in March 2010; and a ministerial council on migrant integration to directly advise the Minister for Integration, Equality and Human Rights on issues faced by migrants in Ireland. Mr. Cole further stated that in order to meet international obligations in the area of asylum the State had allocated significant resources over the years to the asylum determination structures and to the provision of services to asylum seekers.
Concerning the incorporation of the Convention into Irish legislation, Ireland had chosen to fulfill the international obligations arising out of the Convention through domestic legislation which dealt specifically with all the forms of racial discrimination prohibited by the Convention. Mr. Cole said racial profiling was not carried out by the police or by immigration authorities as this was strictly prohibited.
Irish legislation enacted criminal laws which usually provided for maximum penalties in the form of fines or imprisonment or both. Within the Irish constitutional framework the trial judge determined the penalties in individual cases. However, sentencing policy was being examined in the context of a white paper on crime that was being developed by the outgoing government, but the delegation could not speculate on whether the new government would follow up on that white paper.
Mr. Cole said regarding integration measures for migrants, local authorities received support in promoting integration and development of anti-racism plans for their areas. Information had been requested from local authorities on measures taken to halt harassment and ill-treatment of migrants on the street and other public places and to encourage reporting of racist incidents. In addition, the appointment and training of ethnic liaison officers was actively pursued in order to facilitate communication among the concerned parties. Also, victims of racist crimes were encouraged to report offences to their local police station as a first point of contact and police officials and several ministers had been using the media to disseminate statements combating racial prejudice, xenophobia and stereotyping and to cultivate the promotion of cultural diversity.
A scheme had been implemented to employ immigrants as interns in local and regional newspapers and it was considered that sponsoring the employment of immigrants as interns for 6 months would expose readers to the experience of this new group in Irish society, and in that way integration would be enhanced.
Mr. Cole further stated that there was no policy of systematic detention of adults or children seeking asylum in Ireland, and the Refugee Act of 1996 made extensive provision for detained asylum seekers to be brought before the judge of the district court for their detention to be reviewed.
The delegation stated that the Irish government accepted the right of the Travellers to their cultural identity and the 2009 report of the National Traveller Monitoring and Advisory Committee gave some consideration to the question of recognizing Travellers as a distinct ethnic group. He underlined the need for discussions to take place within the Traveller community around the issue. Significant progress had been made in the provision of Traveller accommodation in recent years and he said it should be noted that the number of Traveller families registered in Ireland had increased by 28 per cent in five years, while the number of families living in unauthorized sites had decreased by 45 per cent, from 601 families in 2004 to 422 families in 2009.
In the realm of education for Traveller children, the delegation said the principle of inclusion was at the core of the current strategy and future measures would focus on the development of a more inclusive and intercultural school practice and environment in the entire school planning process, admissions policies, codes of conduct and school evaluation.
Mr. Cole stated that a wide range of Traveller dedicated health services had been initiated and funding had risen to €11 million per year. This significant investment in Traveller health had also allowed for the appointment of designated public health nurses for Travellers and the roll out of primary healthcare projects which established a model for Traveller participation in the development of health services.
He also outlined several measures undertaken to improve school attendance and the retention of pupils from Traveller communities, including initiatives to determine the causes of early school leaving, lower attendance rates and lower attainment levels in English and mathematics.
Regarding the issue of equal enjoyment of socio-economic rights, Mr. Cole underlined that there had been measures taken to ensure that all students had a wider choice of non-denominational schools and that non-denominational teacher training institutions were readily available so that prospective teachers of non-faith and minority religious backgrounds were not deterred from accessing training. He said that the majority of new schools were either multi-denominational or Irish medium schools and this reflected the increase in plurality and diversity in Irish society. He informed the Committee that the Department of Education and Skills’ main responsibility was to ensure that schools could provide for all pupils seeking an education. In addition, the selection process and the enrolment policy on which selection was based ought to be non-discriminatory and had to be applied fairly in respect to all applicants. Mr. Cole went on to say that in relation to primary curriculum, it was the responsibility of the school to provide religious education relating to the ethos of the school, but to also provide arrangements for those students who did not wish to avail themselves of the religious education that was on offer.
Questions Raised by the Rapporteur and Experts
NOUREDDINE AMIR, the Committee Expert serving as country Rapporteur for the report of Ireland, thanked the delegation for their elaborate and succinct report which portrayed Ireland as a country of profound liberty and transparency. Regarding the current financial crisis in Ireland, Mr. Amir wondered how the State would be able to properly handle the issue of racial discrimination and the plight of minorities in light of the impact of the economic and financial crisis. He said the examination of racial discrimination in Ireland was linked to the economic situation of the country as well as the structural approach.
The global crisis had created a 15 per cent recession in three years, resulting in unemployment and a budget deficit due to decreasing tax returns. Consumption prices continued to fall and real estate prices also declined. Mr. Amir said that the economic downturn could be used to justify cases of racial discrimination in the country, but that was not the purpose of his review.
The National Plan of Action against Racial Discrimination launched in 2005 still did not foresee the incorporation of the Convention into Irish domestic legislation and a Committee Member wondered what the actual weight of the Convention was if it was not incorporated into domestic law. The Expert said that international law had to enjoy primacy over domestic law in order to ensure the promotion of universal rights and freedoms across boundaries.
Regarding the essential issue of article 4, the Expert said it was agreed that a law could not be instituted for a State to remove its reservation on parts of a Convention already ratified by the State concerned.
The Expert asked why the concerns of non-governmental organizations were not featured in the State report given that the non-governmental organizations participated in the drafting of the report. The Expert also said the report did not say precisely what kind of status the Traveller community was seeking in their quest for recognition. The Expert expressed concern about how the Ministry of Justice effectively managed the issue of discrimination when it was severely affected by budgetary cuts.
Another Expert raised concerns regarding the issue of asylum seekers and their children and problems with their status, employment and healthcare; they wanted to know why this was not addressed in a structural manner. The expert underlined that the Irish had shed a lot of blood in the name of freedom and wondered if they could afford to refuse that same freedom to the minority communities currently living there.
An Expert expressed concern about the demographics and dynamics regarding anti- discrimination measures undertaken by the State. They decried the lack of implementation of international legislation at the local level and asked the delegation to outline the steps undertaken to implement at least parts of the Convention. The Expert said that it was not possible to ignore the issue of Irish Travellers given the court rulings that had handed down and implemented in parts of the United Kingdom. The delegation was asked to state the position of the Irish government in the matter. The Expert said the children of Travellers were always second in line regarding admissions to certain select schools because there were other children whose parents were alumni of those schools and they received special consideration.
The delegation was asked whether there was an issue of migrants who remained in Ireland even after losing their jobs. Also, had the delegation received information on the International Labour Organization’s convention regarding migrant workers and if so, how would this help the State improve on current national provisions?
Another Expert expressed concern that at the time of the economic crisis, Ireland was weak and had just emerged from its former status of a poor country to a rich one and it was fearful that the economic crisis would have negative repercussions in the political sphere.
Another Expert addressed the issue of migrant women in Ireland who experienced domestic abuse and asked whether these women were covered by the new strategy to solve such cases. They also asked whether measures could be taken to guarantee a stable status for victims of such abuse who’s right to live in Ireland depended on their husband’s status. Furthermore, in spite of the budget cuts, was the State committed to providing training for civil servants who were charged with implementing the legislation against discrimination? An Expert expressed doubts about whether the Employment and Equality Act and Equal Status Act could be replaced by a law to domesticate the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Expert pointed out that migrants did not appear to be fully welcomed in Ireland and said that the Committee needed further information on this.
The next speaker expressed concern that there could be loopholes in Irish legislation which might explain why the State was reluctant to incorporate the Convention in domestic legislation. They encouraged the delegation to give further explanation about the steps taken by the State’s dual system to adopt the Convention and asked if the delegation could explain why members of minority communities were viewed in a narrow mindset. Also, could the delegation say whether it possessed objective criteria that warranted a minority group such as the Traveller community to be classified as a minority ethnic group?
Another Expert asked whether the issue of ethnicity had any influence on access to primary education in Ireland. The Expert also expressed concern about the training of judges in the realm of discrimination which required closer attention, given their pivotal role in the application of law.
Another Expert asked for more information about the lack of a mandate for the ombudsman on immigration issues. They also raised the issue of unaccompanied minors who lacked healthcare coverage. Regarding women’s rights, there were reports of incidents of rape perpetrated by citizens on immigrant women that were not followed up and the Expert asked the delegation for more information. The Expert drew the attention of the delegation to the European Union Plan for Minority Communities and asked them if the State intended to take up the issue.
The next Expert asked for more information concerning the issue of the Traveller community, particularly as the framework commission in Europe stressed the recognition of not only the Roma, but of all minority groups living among European Union States and in their territories.
Remarks by Civil Society

A speaker from the Irish Human Rights Commission raised concerns about cuts made to its budget and underlined that this would have a negative impact on the programmes aimed at protecting and promoting human rights issues in the State; commitments to tackling racism and discrimination had to include awareness and education. There was a lack of dedicated education and training for civil and public servants in Ireland and the speaker stressed that this education and training was needed to help ensure that anti-discrimination measures were mainstreamed into Irish law, policy and practice. The speaker further highlighted the lack of data on incidents of racial crime and racial discrimination in Ireland and stressed that although civil society organizations made an effort to fill this gap, monitoring and reporting of racist incidents should also be carried out by a properly resourced independent state institution. The speaker said that the publication of a state policy on human rights, including on anti-racism and non-discrimination, would assist in tackling racism and discrimination in Ireland.

The Committee’s attention was drawn to the specific issue of discrimination against Travellers who were among the most marginalized communities in Irish society. The speaker remarked that there ought to be a concerted effort by the State, with full participation of Traveller representatives, to address the real discrimination faced by Travellers in health, education, employment, housing, provision of services and other areas.

Referring to a recent visit to a direct provision centre in Galway, the speaker said asylum seekers talked of their immensely stressful situation and emphasised the hugely negative impact of the length of the process, suggesting that they spent years in a state of limbo and uncertainty. The speaker underlined that it was critical to establish an independent system to deal with complaints at the direct provision centres with regards to length of stay, access to healthcare and appropriate food.

Response by the delegation

The delegation underlined that the budget cuts resulting from the financial crisis affected every sector of the State and were not limited to the efforts at protecting and promoting human rights.

Regarding the incorporation of the Convention into domestic law, the delegation said that the outgoing government had not decided on the issue and stressed that it would be up to the incoming government to make that decision. The delegation expressed concern about un-investigated cases of sexual assault and promised that the State would follow up on this issue of great importance. The delegation underlined that there already existed measures to regulate the status of women who were victims of domestic violence independent of that of their spouses.

The delegation informed the Committee that successive Irish governments had accepted the rights of Travellers and would continue working on the issue in order to improve on it, but they could not give any specific information as to whether they would be recognized as a minority ethnic group as that decision would be up to the incoming government.

The delegation explained that Ireland did not possess a separate penal code for racial offences and said that it was left to the judge to apply the appropriate sentences, given that racial offences might arise from different sources.

Regarding the issue of migrants in Ireland, the delegation said it was aware of the effects of the recession on this group, especially their access to the job market. The delegation pointed out that most of the migrants had left because many of them worked in the hospitality industry and with the recession, there had been meagre prospects of gaining employment in that and other sectors. The State had taken measures to provide basic support services to the unemployed in general in order to facilitate professional reintegration, but the results of these initiatives could not yet be evaluated. The delegation further explained that Irish people did not manifest any significant change in their attitudes towards migrants given that the recession affected every strata of society and migrant people remained cordially treated in Ireland.

Regarding accommodation, the delegation made a distinction between temporary housing facilities available to Travellers who were meant to stay on a permanent basis and transient accommodation which had been made available to those who would later move on to other areas. The State made great efforts to also respect the wishes of the Travellers regarding settlement.

Regarding the reporting of racist incidents, the delegation underlined that data covering a period of about five years had been provided by the police and the State deplored these incidents due to the negative impact it had on the victims. There was available support in the schools to explain racism and students had been constantly drilled on anti-bullying regulations in the schools. The Irish government had also created a Ministry of Integration with the specific task of handling the process of facilitating the integration of migrants into Irish society so that mutual understanding could be enhanced between the Irish and non-Irish communities.

The delegation said that it was difficult to say at the moment what attitude the Irish government would take regarding the International Labour Organisation’s draft convention on decent working conditions.

Replying to the question about the condition of asylum seekers in the direct provision centres, the delegation said that Irish law stipulated that the maximum time for dealing with asylum applications was six months, with the exception of a few cases which were complicated or which required a complicated application of the law.

The delegation underlined that each school had the responsibility to decide on its admissions policy, but there were transparency measures put in place to ensure that all barriers limiting the rights of a particular group of children were eliminated. The participation in primary school by Travellers had been made universal and all parents were encouraged to take advantage of these new measures. There was, however a very low progress in post-secondary schools and the State had taken measures to improve this as well.

Segregated training for adult Travellers had been almost eliminated and all the segregated schools would be closed by June 2012. The State had taken initiatives to encourage adult Travellers to attend higher education in Ireland. The State was working on improving the training process geared towards improving the Travellers’ knowledge of the language of instruction used in higher education in order to facilitate access to the university and other tertiary programmes.

The delegation said Ireland was unique in nature and underlined its commitment to seek solutions to the problems faced by all parents and students through dialogue and consultation. All the issues concerning racism in schools were being addressed by the State and the Committee would be informed on the progress made.

The delegation said data from certain sources noted that there had been claims of police racial profiling made by Sub Saharan Africans and the government had taken steps to clarify the matter. Islamophobia had not been an issue in Ireland and the State had engaged in interfaith dialogue to prevent its occurrence.

Regarding the policy of direct provision for asylum seekers, the delegation said that the length of time spent in direct provision centres was in relation to the decision about their asylum, but this was a small number of cases. There was a high level of court intervention in the matter and this probably explained the length of stay in the direct provision centres. The delegation said the average processing time was about eight to nine weeks for non-problematic cases, and that for appeals cases it was set between nine to fifteen weeks; there were no delays in processing humanitarian cases. The whole process was done with strict respect for international regulations and resources were made available to ensure this.

Regarding mental health services for asylum seekers, the delegation underlined that it was not possible to quantify them but concerned those people who had fled their cultural realities, families and other situations to come to Ireland and file asylum claims. The State provided them with basic needs such as health screening, appropriate food, free medicines and accommodation.

Addressing the issue of an independent complaint mechanism, the delegation said every asylum seeker was provided with a set of health rules drawn up in 2007 in consultation with a number of civil society and State organizations. These rules had been posted on the internet in 12 languages. The delegation stressed that “rules shows” had been conducted in the direct provision centres in order to inform asylum seekers of their rights and obligations on the subject. The delegation also said it was not in the interest of the contractors who administered these rules and provided the services to behave unfairly to the asylum seekers.

Regarding the issue of food in the centre, it was in the interest of all parties concerned that there was adequate provision of food in the centres. The asylum seekers could not cook for themselves, but the State made sure that menus were very hygienic and reflected the various cultural backgrounds of the asylum seekers. The delegation underlined the commitment of the State to ensure that the residents of the direct provision centres were treated fairly.

Further questions and Comments by Experts

An Expert expressed regret that the delegation did not have any data regarding racist incidents and underlined that the State would have to take steps to assign this function to an independent institution.

Concerning refugees and asylum seekers, the Expert requested more information as to how children of asylum seekers and refugees were treated, especially those whose parents were placed in holding centres. Regarding the Traveller community, the Expert asked whether the State thought their situation could be akin to that of the Roma in several European States.

Answer by delegation

The delegation replied that the issue of statistics had already been addressed in a previous answer. Regarding minors and children of asylum seekers, the delegation said it was the responsibility of the health services to ensure that there was no difference in the provision of care for these children and that it was appropriate to their needs. Those children whose parents resided in holding centres were kept with their parents and there were learning opportunities available to all of them. Regarding the Traveller community, the delegation said that Ireland did not experience similar problems faced by other European neighbours such as France with the Roma community. However, as the Roma population in Ireland increased, the State would have to adopt measures to deal with the issue, but the delegation could not provide more information at the moment. Support was made available to all children in schools irrespective of their origin.

Regarding the question about missing children during the asylum process, the delegation said that the practice of placing them in hospitals ceased last year and different measures had been put in place whereby social workers followed up on the children’s needs for a minimum period of four to six weeks. This period made it possible to conduct DNA tests in order to determine or identify family members, and undertake measures to return the children back to their homes if necessary.

Further questions and Comments by Experts

An Expert commented on the low level of reports made to the police regarding discrimination incidents against people of African origin and suggested that this might be due to fear and urged the delegation to look into the matter and provide more information. The Expert also raised the allegation or claim that taxi drivers of African descent faced exclusion and other acts of racial discrimination and asked the delegation to provide more information on the issue. The Committee Expert also reiterated the lack of data concerning racial profiling due to the absence of complaints and urged the delegation to provide a clarification on the issue. The Expert informed the delegation of the need to review the approach to the question of racial discrimination in Ireland which seemed to be based on short-term analysis.

Another Expert reiterated their concern about the disappearance of children in asylum centres and expressed a worry about their vulnerability to paedophilia, human trafficking and other crimes.

Answers by delegation

The delegation said there had not been any reports of Traveller children being victims of paedophilia and human trafficking, and stressed that the Travellers themselves were very cooperative in that respect. The State nevertheless took the observations into consideration and would pay more attention to the issue in the future. The delegation expressed difficulty in getting accurate data about taxi drivers of African origin in Galway, given that they were not directly employed by the taxi companies. Regarding racial profiling, the delegation explained that the lack of complaints was not particularly an issue, but said it needed more time to investigate and report to the Committee.

The delegation stressed that the National Education Board did not have separate rules for children when it came to the right to attend a school and there were mechanisms for reporting incidents of discrimination to the Board.

Concluding Remarks

In preliminary concluding observations NOURREDINE AMIR, the Committee Expert who served as country Rapporteur for the report of Ireland, thanked the delegation for their presence as well as their commitment to reply to the Committee’s questions in spite of their current difficult economic situation. The Rapporteur conveyed the Committee’s solidarity with Ireland and hoped the State would come out of this situation stronger than before. To that end, the Expert expressed his wish to see the questions of discrimination in Ireland speedily resolved.

Mr. Amir noted the State’s unwillingness to incorporate the Convention into domestic law as well its unwillingness to withdraw its reservations to articles 4 and 14. He also reiterated that according to Ireland the issue of racial discrimination did not form an adequate basis for it to be punishable by the penal code. He said that the questions submitted by the Committee and responses provided by the delegation had been noted and would be included in the final report that would be drawn up by the Committee.

According to Mr. Amir, given the current economic situation, Ireland should work to satisfy the rights of all minorities and he hoped that the soon to be elected Irish Government would dually note the work done here and ensure that racial discrimination was treated as a fundamental and structural issue.

The delegation expressed thanks to the Committee for providing them the opportunity to present their report and noted the Committee’s sympathy with Ireland in the face of the financial crisis.

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