FLAC welcomes ‘significant and ambitious’ anti-racism plan

FLAC welcomes 'significant and ambitious' anti-racism plan

Eilis Barry

Legal rights group FLAC has welcomed the publication of the government’s “significant and ambitious” new National Action Plan Against Racism.

The plan, which covers the period from 2023 to 2027, was published by ministers yesterday alongside an implementation plan for the first year.

FLAC said the plan reflects many of its own recommendations to the independent anti-racism committee which drew up the document.

It welcomed commitments to “eliminate any policing practices that target specific groups experiencing racism” and to introduce “special measures for groups experiencing racism who are most at risk of homelessness or are unable to access appropriate housing or accommodation” as a matter of priority.

The plan also reflects FLAC’s submission by making a number of recommendations for enhancing Ireland’s anti-discrimination law, and in its “priority actions” to “improve access to legal advice and representation for groups experiencing racism”.

Those actions include “extending the remit of the Legal Aid Board to provide legal representation; and giving advocacy organisations standing to initiate proceedings on behalf of those affected by racism”.

FLAC said it particularly welcomes the Taoiseach’s commitment to a “cross-government” approach to the plan’s implementation, along with other commitments in relation to the manner in which the plan will be implemented.

Eilis Barry, chief executive of FLAC, said: “The plan published today makes commitments across a broad number of areas to strengthen the rights of those from minority ethnic and migrant backgrounds, and to combat the discrimination that they face.

“This includes responses to several issues of concern highlighted by FLAC arising from the casework of its Roma Legal Clinic and Traveller Legal Service – including in relation to racial profiling and access to housing.

“The plan’s recommendations, while significant and ambitious, are broad in nature. A detailed cross-governmental implementation plan with specific timeframes is needed to ensure that this plan meets its potential.”

She added: “FLAC emphasised in its submission to the independent anti-racism committee that access to justice is crucial to ensure that all individuals and groups can vindicate their rights and challenge discrimination. To achieve this, urgent reforms to Ireland’s anti-discrimination and legal aid frameworks are necessary, and we were pleased to see that highlighted in the plan published today.

“The ongoing reviews of the Equality Acts and the civil legal aid scheme both represent golden opportunities to give effect to some of the most significant recommendations in this plan.

“Particularly, the Department of Equality should now act with urgency to progress the review of the Equality Acts and to implement this plan’s recommendations to bring the actions of An Garda Siochána within the scope of the prohibition of discrimination, to remove the limits on compensation for discrimination, and to give the Workplace Relations Commission jurisdiction to hear all discrimination complaints against licenced premises.”

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