Government record on asylum seekers attacked
THE Government has been heavily criticised for how this country treats asylum seekers, member of the Traveller community, migrant workers and their families — and for not tackling racism adequately.
An Irish Human Rights Commission Report on our record on racial discrimination, published yesterday, calls for the restoration of resources to combat racial discrimination and abuse.
President of the IHRC, Dr Maurice Manning, said although Ireland is a multi-ethnic country, racial discrimination is a problem, and that human rights and equality infrastructure working to promote multiculturalism and combat racism had been either disbanded or disabled.
Dr Manning said that in a recent survey, ethnic minorities reported their perceptions of a high level of racial discrimination and abuse.
“Effective human rights and equality bodies are required to monitor and combat racial discrimination, the restoration of the resources to carry out this work is essential,” he said.
The report also highlights failed policies in relation to travellers and asylum seekers.
According to the IHRC, travellers have experienced racial discrimination for generations, yet they are not recognised as an ethnic minority.
The report says halting sites provided to the Traveller community by local authorities are not of good enough quality. And that Travellers continue to achieve poor educational outcomes and are in very poor health compared to the general population.
Asylum seekers are spending too long waiting for their applications to be processed, Dr Manning said.
“This needs to be tackled urgently as the long stay in hostels, prohibition on working and social isolation, are among the causes of worrying levels of poor mental health among asylum seekers,” he added.
Another area of concern, says the commission, is that there are insufficient human rights safeguards to protect migrant workers and their families.
According to the chief executive of the IHRC, Éamonn MacAodha, vulnerable migrant workers need greater legislative and policy protections, especially those working in the hospitality industry, rural workers, and women migrant workers, particularly those working in domestic households.
That 98% of Irish primary schools are under religious patronage was also highlighted in yesterday’s publication.
According to the commission, there should be an adequate choice in the range of primary and post-primary schools available in keeping with the increased diversity and changing nature of Irish society.
“Parents and older children should have adequate choice in the range of primary and post-primary schools available in keeping with increased diversity and the changing nature of Irish society,” Mr Mac Aodha said.
“Legislative and policy changes are required to ensure that people of non-faith and from religious minorities are not deterred from training as teachers, or taking up employment as teachers.”
This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, December 10, 2010 By Jennifer Hough