Minister Stanton hosts Public and Stakeholder Consultation for the

International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024)

 

3 April 2019

 

Mr David Stanton TD, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality with special responsibility for Equality, Immigration & Integration, today hosted a Public and Stakeholder Consultation on the UN International Decade for People of African Descent, in the Department of Justice and Equality.  Approximately 100 stakeholders were in attendance, many of whom represent African Community organisations.

 

Opening the Consultation, Minister Stanton said: “Ireland has been home to people of African descent for many years. The Decade invites us to celebrate our connections throughout history and today.  Integrating our diverse histories and cultures can support the health and wellbeing of our communities, and enable us to build new and inclusive shared narratives and values.

 

The purpose of the event was to involve stakeholders in the design of a programme of action in Ireland to mark the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).  Combatting racial discrimination is a central objective of the Decade.  Identifying disadvantage and designing targeted initiatives to tackle it are important elements of the Government’s overall approach to equality and inclusion.

 

The Minister added: “We are hoping for a rich and creative process that will help to design a celebration of the Decade in Ireland that is true to its global themes of Recognition, Justice and Development, but is also very personal to Ireland and to the experience of living in Ireland as a Person of African Descent.  It is through interaction that we see and feel the benefits of diversity. Integrated communities are communities in which everyone enjoys the right both to participate and to be themselves.”

 

ENDS

 

Notes for Editors:

 

The International Decade for People of African Descent

 

The Decade is a UN initiative that grew from the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action from the 2001 World Conference Against Racism. The Decade, which was the subject of a 2013 UN resolution, runs from 2015 to 2024. Its three inter-dependent themes are Recognition, Justice and Development. States are called upon to mark the Decade through adoption of a Programme of Action based on these themes.

 

The objectives of the Decade are as follows:

 

 

The Migrant Integration Strategy (2017-2020)

 

The Government approach to migrant integration is framed within a comprehensive Migrant Integration Strategy covering the four-year period 2017 to 2020. This Strategy contains 76 specific actions for Government Departments, local authorities, and other public bodies across a range of public policy and service provision areas including: Promoting Intercultural Awareness and Combating Racism and Xenophobia; Education; Access to Public Services and Social Inclusion; Employment and Pathways to work; Active Citizenship.

 

Many actions involve the participation of non-Government actors, including community and voluntary sector organisations, local communities, the business sector, and sporting and arts organisations.

 

                                                

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Speech by Minister of State, David Stanton T.D.

 

 

 

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Public and Stakeholder Consultation

International Decade for People of African Descent

Department of Justice and Equality

3 April 2019, 2.00-4.00pm

 

 

 

A Chairde, Friends,

 

You’re all very welcome here this afternoon to the Department of Justice and Equality. I’m pleased to open this consultation on the International Decade for People of African Descent. By taking part in today’s event, you are helping to design Ireland’s engagement with the landmark global initiative that the Decade represents. This is a creative and collaborative event. I hope that you will take this opportunity to generate ideas about how we can celebrate the Decade here in Ireland.

 

My own responsibilities as Minister of State include both equality and integration. The Decade has resonance across both of these broad policy agendas. In opening this conversation with you all today, I want to reflect briefly on how the Decade might help to advance our work in these areas.

 

We are working with colleagues across Government to promote equality, integration and inclusion. To guide us in this work, the Government has adopted a suite of equality strategies, each with a specific focus. These include the Migrant Integration Strategy and the National Strategy for Women and Girls, both of which have a particular relevance to the Decade. These Strategies are helpful in keeping our work focussed across these broad areas of social policy. Through our Strategies, we can monitor progress on the commitments that Government has made to make public policy and practice more inclusive of women and minorities.

 

The Decade offers an opportunity for us to consider the experiences of people of African descent living in Ireland. It invites us to ask ourselves how well the agendas of equality, integration and inclusion are progressing for the African descent population in Ireland. Do we need to renew our efforts in certain areas to address disadvantage and combat discrimination? How might we work together to develop effective remedies?

 

Through its inter-related themes of recognition, justice and development, the Decade also invites a spirit of celebration. It recognises the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African descent to the development of societies worldwide. Let’s keep those themes – recognition – justice – development - in mind throughout today’s conversation. They will help to guide us in generating ideas for how we might celebrate the Decade here in Ireland in a truly inclusive way.

 

Combating racial discrimination is a central objective of the Decade. Racism and xenophobia are the very opposite to equality, integration and inclusion that we are working to support in communities across Ireland. When people live under the threat of racist abuse or attacks, they live in fear. It’s hard to play your full part in society if you’re afraid.  Racist hate speech or actions motivated by racism have no place in a tolerant society. As part of the Migrant Integration Strategy, the Gardaí have committed to address the under-reporting of racist attacks. As part of this work they are developing greater contact with marginalised communities and encouraging victims of racist attacks to report them. Separately, the Department of Justice and Equality is reviewing the current legal framework for combatting hate crime, with a view to strengthening it, in particular with respect to online hate speech. This work will help to ensure that we are well equipped to combat racism – both at the level of our national legal frameworks, and within our local communities.

 

Identifying disadvantage and designing targeted initiatives to tackle it are important elements of our overall approach to equality and integration. Public services are provided on mainstreamed basis, with additional supports offered in accordance with identified need. Through the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, the Department of Justice and Equality makes significant national and EU funding available for such supports. Just last week I announced the opening of a call for proposals under the Communities Integration Fund for a new round of community-based projects to support integration at the local level. I hope to see many innovative activities funded through this call. This type of support is essential as it involves local communities themselves in creating a sense of welcome for newcomers. And it’s not all about newcomers either. Many Irish-born ethnic minorities and second generation migrants may be at risk of social exclusion or experience discrimination. Research recently carried out by Economic and Social Research Institute on behalf of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission found that Black Irish people reported levels of workplace disadvantage and discrimination relative to the White Irish population. Strengthening efforts to eliminate such discrimination worldwide is a core objective of the Decade. We are also called on to express solidarity with the people of Africa in their continuing struggle against racial discrimination. Here in Ireland, all public sector organisations have a positive legal duty to promote equality; prevent discrimination; and protect the human rights of anyone affected by their policies and plans, including all their service users and their staff. This is a powerful lever to raise our performance when it comes to human rights and equality in the workplace and beyond.

 

Ireland has been home to people of African descent for many years. The Decade invites us to celebrate our connections throughout history and today. Integrating our diverse histories and cultures can support the health and wellbeing of our communities, and enable us to build new and inclusive shared narratives and values. It is through interaction that we see and feel the benefits of diversity. Integrated communities are communities in which everyone enjoys the right both to participate and to be themselves.

 

I hope that today’s conversations will provide you with an opportunity to do both those things – to participate, and to be yourselves. We are hoping for a rich and creative process that will help to design a celebration of the Decade in Ireland that is true to its global themes of Recognition, Justice and Development, but is also very personal to Ireland and to the experience of living in Ireland as a Person of African Descent.

 

I am fortunate to be able to stay for some of these conversations and I look forward to hearing what’s being said and created at the tables. After today, I’ll be talking to my colleagues across Government about their input and contributions to the Decade. Combined with what’s generated at today’s event, this will enable us to design a Programme of Action for the Decade in Ireland. Subject to the approval of the Government, and provision of resources, we will then move to announcement and commence implementation later this year.

 

But for today it’s now over to you. Enjoy the conversation.

 

Thank you.