Report outlines new anti-racism measures

A HIGH-LEVEL steering group will ensure the Government’s anti-racism blueprint is implemented, the Taoiseach said yesterday.

And each Government department and state body must ensure its policies and training requirements are “diversity-proofed”.

The National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR), published by Bertie Ahern and Justice Minister Michael McDowell, designates bodies to oversee the strategy, including:

*A high-level steering group made up of government officials, representatives of community bodies and expert groups.

*The Equal Status Division, in the Department of Justice, to coordinate overall government policy.

*An Intercultural Forum to promote research and debate policy.

The Strategic Monitoring Group, headed by independent communication expert Lucy Gaffney, will have an annual budget of €1 million.

“Racism is wrong, discrimination is wrong and has no place in a republic,” said Mr Ahern.

He said the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau was a reminder of the consequences of “hatred and prejudice”.

Mr McDowell said a comprehensive statistics strategy would be drawn up on racially-motivated crimes.

He said an expert committee on racist incidents would be set up and would consider whether aggravated offences should be introduced for racially-motivated crimes.

The body would also consider the concept of “crimes of hate.”

He said the Garda Racial Office would get increased resources and that all inspectors and sergeants would undergo intercultural training.

He also said the delayed review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act was awaiting EU policy developments, including one on cybercrime.

This would take into account the existence of foreign racist websites being available on the internet in Ireland.

Mr McDowell rejected claims made by the NGO Alliance, representing over 40 human rights groups, that Irish policies had increased racism.

He rejected their suggestions that some Government policies breached international obligations.

Philip Watt of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism congratulated the government on the report.

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