2022 in review

HUGE THANKS to everyone who worked with us in 2022.

It’s been an incredibly busy year for us, and a very satisfying one!

We had 3 full-time team members, 2 part time, and 11 project staff, based in Dublin, Galway and Belfast.

  • Dr Lucy Michael – Director
  • Dr Niloufar Omidi – Senior Researcher (Human Rights Law)
  • Dan Reynolds – Researcher (Social Analysis)
  • Dr Ka Ka Tsang – Researcher
  • Dr Marta Kempny – Researcher (Social Analysis) (not in photo)
  • Megan Elliott – Executive Assistant

We are grateful for all our team members and partners and how they help us to further our work on equity, inclusion and justice.

The She Leads Fingal programme was designed and led with 5 prominent local leaders in Fingal. Ayo Yusuf, Geraldine Rooney and Catherine Joyce led the in-person delivery with Lucy.

The Belfast Inequalities research was conducted with a team of 8 peer researchers from the city.

  • Maria Teglas
  • Ezzaldin Thabet
  • Nattassa Latcham
  • Marty Pilkiewicz
  • Mary McDonagh
  • Salwa Al Sharabi
  • Eva Logan
  • Support: Denis Long and Pauline McGarry

The Belfast Inequalities programme was delivered in partnership with ACSONI and POLCA.

Our clients this year in Ireland, the UK and Europe included:

Arts Council of Ireland

Belfast City Council

Church of Ireland

Croí na Gaillimhe SVP Asylum Support Group

Fingal County Council

Galway City Partnership

European Network Against Racism

EU Fundamental Rights Agency

Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC)

Irish Deaf Society

Irish Council of Churches

Irish Network Against Racism

Maynooth University

New Communities Partnership

Policing Authority

University of Galway

From the archives: Race Equality Works for Northern Ireland

In December 2015, Business in the Community in the UK published a major report on racial equality in UK workplaces. While this was an important piece of research, there were some obvious gaps in the Northern Ireland data.

Business in the Community Northern Ireland in partnership with Dr Lucy Michael and Maciek Bator of Craic NI undertook new research to explore the steps Northern Ireland’s employers are taking and the challenges they are facing in identifying and addressing racial inequality in the workplace.

The report Race Equality Works for Northern Ireland highlighted employers’ key considerations when addressing racist exclusion, discrimination, and unconscious bias in the workplace, both for BME staff and for staff considered ‘migrant workers’.

A range of measures were taken to address the race-equality agenda, including making dedicated budgets available for training, interventions and positive reinforcement, and hiring staff experienced in dealing with equality duties.

Organisations that perceived equality efforts as a central part of the human resources function reported higher rates of confidence among staff to address new issues identified and to reflect on workforce planning.

A unique feature of this study was that participants were asked, in interviews, to identify ways in which their own organisation could improve on race-equality efforts, which encourages an incremental approach to moving forward on race equality, while considering time and resources.

Prompts included thinking about ways to draw on past achievements, leveraging strategic opportunities to highlight positive experiences of diversity, or adopting new equality measures.

Obstacles to new activities were time, resources, competing demands in the ‘equality agenda’, and a lack of interest from management.

Most of these activities directly linked to bullying and harassment prevention or resolution, but some also addressed recruitment and selection activities, and a few mentioned interest in addressing promotion or progression.

Just under half of employers suggested that they could monitor ethnic or national identities more widely; however, for organisations with small numbers of BME or foreign-born employees, they were unsure about how to make use of that monitoring data. Almost all employers looked to the Northern Ireland census to benchmark BME participation in their business.

Clear links between diversity and excellence will drive focus and will ensure that efforts to address equality in the workplace are effective and efficient. Strategies should be longer term and should aim to raise awareness, so that you consult staff on their ongoing impact and can evaluate the impact of any strategies implemented. Short-term, strategies can be useful in making a start on race-equality work (particularly if other equality groups are significantly more embedded in the organisation), but they should be a prelude to an established and sufficiently resourced equality strategy.

Business in the Community NI’s Denise Cranston commented: “Progressive employers have, for some time, been integrating equality and diversity initiatives into core business functions, such as organisational strategy and talent-management programmes. But this research shows that they need to do more to achieve greater race and ethnic diversity. Business in the Community fully supports the recommendations in the report and calls upon all employers to commit to taking action in order to take full advantage of the opportunity that migrant and ethnic workers present.”

The results have been used to develop a new toolkit for local employers, sharing steps they can take to improve race equality in the workplace; these include the following:

  • Clearly communicating the value of diversity in an organisation
  • Committing to raising awareness of racial bias
  • Being aware of the wider context of high levels of racism in Northern Ireland, and that it is not the preserve of any particular group
  • Making sense of local demographics and the wider picture of race equality in Northern Ireland
  • Using open and transparent communication, with consultation and feedback being key to understanding how well established the message about diversity is
  • Being confident, knowledgeable and comfortable when talking about racial bias
  • Showcasing success by creating visibility for diverse role models
  • Keeping equality on the table and considering how the value of diversity is reflected in business activities

Download the Report

Inequalities in Belfast – full report

We are happy to say that the report Inequalities Experienced by Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Traveller people residing in Belfast, produced for Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and Public Health NI, with ACSONI and POLCA, is now available in multiple formats.

Cover of the Research Summary Report

We are happy to say that the report Inequalities Experienced by Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Traveller people residing in Belfast, produced for Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and Public Health NI, with ACSONI and POLCA, is now available in multiple formats.

Read the Summary Report online 

Download the report:

 Summary to download (from ACSONI website)

Full Report to download (from ACSONI website)

Get a printed copy:

Printed copies of summary in English, Arabic, Chinese, Polish, Romanian and Somali available from goodrelations@belfastcity.gov.uk.


Download our infographics to share information from the research report


New Know Your Rights Guide for International Protection Applicants in Ireland launch

New Know Your Rights Guide for International Protection Applicants in Ireland launch

A new Know Your Rights guide for international protection applicants has been published by ICCL and the Irish Refugee Council.

The Know Your Rights Guide for International Protection Applicants offers a comprehensive guide to the application process and rights while in Ireland, including in work, education, voting, protection from crime and access to supports.

The Guide also emphasises the fundamental freedoms that all humans have, and how they are protected in Irish law. This includes civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to protest, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and the right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

The Guide outlines the current law in a clear and accessible manner to empower international protection applicants to both exercise and vindicate their rights.

The Guide is available at www.iccl.ie/your-rights/

It is currently available online in English, with publication due shortly of French and Arabic versions.

Posters to promote the Guide can be requested from enquiries@lucymichael.ie

The Guide was authored by Dr Niloufar Omidi and Dr Lucy Michael with assistance from Roos Demol, Doireann Ansbro and Sinead Nolan at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), Nick Henderson, Katie Mannion and Alan O’Leary at the Irish Refugee Council (IRC), and Claire O’Riordan and Elizabeth O’Shea at the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA).

This guide was funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

Special thanks to protection applicants

Special thanks are due to the international protection applicants who gave their time to take part in the feedback groups about this guide. Their thoughtful responses to questions and their discussions helped make this guide as useful as possible. Many thanks also to Zoe Phiri for her assistance in organising
these feedback groups with international protection applicants.
Thanks to case-workers, advisors and others Many thanks also to the case-workers and advisors at the following non-governmental organisations
who provided invaluable advice and assistance: Doras, Crosscare, Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI), Jesuit Refugee Service (JRC), New Communities Partnership (NCP) and Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

Poster showing booklet cover and parts – available on request

Capacity Building workshops with our Belfast research team

L to R: Ezzaldin, Mary, Marty, Eva, Marta, Salwa, Pauline, Csilla, Maria, Dan

We are currently undertaking research in partnership with ACSONI, POLCA and Belfast Intercultural Romanian Association on behalf of Belfast City Council to make recommendations to address ethnic inequalities across a variety of domains, including but not exclusive to: health, education, employment and civic and political participation.

The research and report will inform the city’s Community Planning document, the ‘Belfast Agenda’, which sets out a shared vision for the future of the city and seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing outcomes of all citizens in Belfast.

Interviewers have been hired from a range of ethnic, national and linguistic backgrounds who have strong connections in the stakeholder communities for this research. Each of the interviewers have been provided with training on ethics and interview methods, technique and data management. This has been supplemented by feedback and support throughout the data collection process.

Two additional capacity-building workshops funded by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust provide opportunities for training and collaboration on data analysis, giving the interviewers detailed insight into how data is interpreted and refined for presentation and the process of identifying and composing recommendations. They are supported to increase their contribution to the interpretation of data and composition of recommendations through this process.

L to R: Ezzaldin, Mary, Marta, Eva, Csilla, Salwa, Maria, Marty, Nattassa, Dan, standing in the hallway of Accidental Theatre Belfast, all smiling widely

Listen back

Is racial discrimination a problem in our third level institutions? RTE Morning Ireland

Language barriers creating difficulties for Syrians resettling in Ireland – on RTE Morning Ireland, Razan Ibraheem, Irish-Syrian journalist, discusses our report on the integration of Syrian refugees in Ireland.

Falling down the Covid conspiracy rabbit hole. Lucy talks to TippFM interview on disinformation, the far-right, Covid conspiracies, and the right to protest.

How do you deradicalise your close relative who has gone down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole? Newstalk interview with Henry McKean following anti-lockdown protest in Dublin

On the Policed podcast, Nana Nubi and Lucy Michael speak to Dr Vicky Conway about questions and concerns emerging from the killing of George Nkencho by the Armed Response Unit, including the right to life, policing and racism, policing mental health, and accountability  https://tortoiseshack.ie/policed-the-beat-george-nkencho/

On Reboot Republic podcast, Rory Hearne and Lucy talk about racism, Direct Provision, deportations, and the resistance to the far-right in Ireland. https://open.spotify.com/episode/6COdYPh3EQQeRhaRpzRwzV?si=azaQlA2wSs2fDVHh6aGsMw

In the last of The Black & Irish podcast series, Amanda speaks with Lucy about her work with INAR, how allyship needs to be developed, and understanding the importance of unconscious bias. https://www.rte.ie/lifestyle/living/2020/1221/1185734-dr-lucy-michael-on-allyship-racism-and-unconscious-bias/

On the Policed podcast, Majo Rivas, Fiona Finn and Lucy Michael discuss migrant experiences with An Garda Siochana https://podcasts.apple.com/ie/podcast/the-policed-podcast/id1529864553?i=1000490064976



Race Equality in the Higher Education Sector Implementation Plan

Rac

Today sees the launch of the Higher Education Authority Race Equality in the Higher Education Sector Implementation Plan 2022-2024.
Lucy will be speaking about the work we did on the national survey of Race Equality in the Higher Education Sector and how our report informed recommendations.

We found:
More than one-third (35%) of minority ethnic third-level education staff say they have been subjected to racial or ethnic discrimination on campus.
Less than half of minority ethnic staff are on full-time contracts, compared to 38% of white Irish and 25% white other not on full time contracts.
Just over 17% of minority ethnic staff earn over €75,000, compared to 38% of white Irish and 25% of white other
Some 71% said they feel they are treated equally by their colleagues, irrespective of their background
69% said they are treated equally by students, irrespective of their background
Few white staff have reported experiencing racial or ethnic discrimination, but all groups reported witnessing racial or ethnic discrimination against minority ethnic staff
More than half of respondents (52%) said they had never seen or heard the use of racist language on campus or online, while 27% said they rarely have seen such instances. However, staff across all ethnic groups described witnessing racial or ethnic discrimination against ethnic minority staff.

We made recommendations in 8 key areas:

Leadership
Supporting Diversity in Staffing
Making Race/Equality Policies Transparent
Reporting Mechanisms
Awareness and Training
Fostering Diversity in HEIs
Supporting Diversity in Student Recruitment
Data Collection

We look forward to seeing how those are implemented from today.

Balbriggan Youth Forum visit Howth RNLI

Balbriggan Youth Forum provides opportunities for young people in Balbriggan to speak about key social issues, connect with organisations to learn about those issues and how they affect young people, and learn new skills to share with others. BYF was established in 2021 by Balbriggan Integration Forum in acknowledgement that young people needed a platform for their own voices, to share the views of young people in the town and raise issues of concern to them. 

BYF’s next trip will be to the Dáil in September to visit TDs and Ministers, to learn about how local and national politics connect, and explore how young people’s voices can be heard.

https://www.independent.ie/regionals/dublin/fingal/balbriggan-youth-forum-visit-howth-rnli-41946265.html

A group of youth representatives from Balbriggan Youth Forum made an informative visit to Howth RNLI Lifeboats recently. Forum members came to learn about beach safety, safety on the water, the work of the RNLI crews, and how this important rescue operation is supported by volunteers. The members were keen to find out how to keep young people and their communities safe on and near the water, and learn about frontline rescues.

They were given a tour of the station, equipment and lifeboat pier to see the facilities supporting rescues across Fingal and Dublin. Jenny Harris, a volunteer member of the RNLI crew, shared her stories of rescues and being an essential part of a team under pressure. Forum members were particularly keen to find out how to share safety information with their community, and how to support the lifeboat’s work.

The group visited Baily Bites at Kish Fish on the West Pier to try out new seafood, the Martello Tower with it’s fantastic Hurdy Gurdy Radio museum and Balscadden Beach, while learning about the history of the town, its people and its connections with other parts of Fingal.

Building an inclusive community

Committee standing in front of the room, dressed elegantly, with Fingal Integration Forum banner behind
Fingal Integration Forum committee: Lawrence, Olanike, Oghenetano John, Mojisola, Helen and Yetunde

Notes from a speech by Dr Lucy Michael to Fingal Integration Forum Balbriggan Diversity Awareness Event, 18 May 2022

In my speech at Fingal Integration Forum about building Inclusive community, I spoke about the need for local community groups to hold public bodies to account, not just in formal mechanisms, but through local engaged and responsive framing of key issues: 

1. To keep public bodies deeply and keenly engaged with our communities, who they serve

2. Not to wait for consultation on the terms of the public body, but to prompt consultation on the needs of the people 

3. to keep the local community appraised and informed of key issues and how they can respond effectively as individuals and groups

4. To track and complain about inequality & injustice in a robust way

5. To educate on & highlight different experiences of public services

 6. To provide a safe intermediary space for residents to discuss issues of unequal service or blocked access to services, for collective action (where individuals feel too vulnerable to complain with their own names) 

7. To frame issues of inequality in public services as issues which are legitimate points of collective discussion by and within the whole community, not only the subject of individual complaints mechanisms, which can isolate and burden those most at risk. 

The point is to “Trouble the comfortable, and comfort the troubled” (quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer), and in this case, the comfortable are those in public services who see no urgency in addressing real community concerns unless they are packaged “just right”. Our challenge, as communities, is to make it inescapable that (a) public bodies see those issues through the eyes of the most affected by harmful/denied public services and (b) they account to the public they serve for harmful/denied services 

As the public, we want to remove both (1) the burden which complaints mechanisms put on affected individuals, who are often multiply marginalised already and (2) push public bodies to be proactive, not reactive, to issues of inequality we raise. These things are crucial to building an inclusive community, because local community integration projects will never rebalance the power of structural racism to exclude and divide communities, through harmful/denied service in education, health, policing, welfare, planning, etc. 

To “comfort the troubled”, we need local efforts which centre justice, inclusion and repair, accountability for harm and denial of public service, and share a vision of public service which really serves the public. What do I mean by harmful or denied public service? Denied accommodation needs, denied welfare needs, denied access needs, school and police discrimination that leads to punishment and exclusion, denied healthcare, harmful public spaces or service access routes. 

Ireland has an anti-discrimination infrastructure which the Minister last week described as excellent. But it is accessible to only a proportion of those who need it because it centres formal complaint, lengthy legal process, and promotes imbalance between the injured party and injurer. Public services are not subject to that Equality mechanism either (major issue 🚩).
Neither is the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty actionable by any individual against a public sector body. So relying on affected individuals to (a) name themselves and assume more vulnerability and (b) access and navigate difficult complaints systems, is not a path to equal service for all by public services. 

That’s where community action comes back in. Local groups don’t have to be huge, but they should be well networked. Like public bodies, it’s okay to have a specialism. But many local groups addressing injustice and inequality often find themselves battling on all fronts. Because the same group of people are affected, and public bodies (and even specialist local orgs) often don’t want to confront how their services interact with others to create forms of multiple and interconnected exclusions that divide community. By keeping the focus on the individual, blame is kept there too, and it’s up to the individual to “prove” discrimination. That’s not how this should work at all. 

If we take seriously the concept of systemic racism, which reminds us that racism was part of the social system which created all of these public services, we should be reminded that the “public” is by default a homogeneous or limited set of groups. And in turn, they are often set up as more or less deserving service users, and that’s built in to practices and policies of our public services. We have to act in unison and with rigour to change that. 

Inclusive community projects need spaces to help us get to know one another and reduce isolation, and mechanisms to reduce exclusion, but to be sustainable, our work must address the collective experiences and institutional practices which reproduce these harms.