FLAC: Success of ambitious new Anti-Racism Plan depends on commitment to urgent cross-Governmental implementation
21 March 2023
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) has welcomed the publication today of the new National Action Plan Against Racism. The plan reflected many of the recommendations made by FLAC in its submission to the Independent Anti-Racism Committee (who drafted the plan). This includes 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 particularly welcomes the Taoiseach’s commitment to a “cross-Government” approach to the plans implementation, along with other commitments in relation to the manner in which the plan will be implemented.
FLAC Chief Executive, Eilis Barry commented:
“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 plans’ 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.
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.”
Notes to Editors:
FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights and equality organisation, which exists to promote equal access to justice. As an Independent Law Centre, FLAC takes on a number of cases in the public interest each year and operates a Traveller Legal Service, Roma Legal Clinic and LGBTQI Legal Service. FLAC also campaigns on a range of issues, including consumer credit, personal debt, fairness in social welfare law, public interest law, civil legal aid and equality and anti-discrimination law.
FLAC made a detailed submission to the Independent Anti-Racism Committee which may be accessed here: https://www.flac.ie/publications/flac-submission-to-the-independent-antiracism-comm/
The new National Action Plan Against Racism may be accessed here: https://www.gov.ie/pdf/?file=https://assets.gov.ie/250147/ff9dea67-ef0a-413e-9905-7246b5432737.pdf#page=null