Bray for Love launch new mural with conversations about tackling racism

Bray People - Bray for Love to launch new mural

Bray for Love will host an official launch of their Harbour Bar mural, taking place online on Sunday, March 24 at 4 p.m.

The launch marks International day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

They will formally launch the Bray for Love mural painted by Holly Pereira and have some discussions on racism and challenging racism.

Speakers include Emer O’Neill, Anne Waithiera Burke, Dr Lucy Michael, Aideen Roche, Tina Maphakela and Holly Pereira.

Keynote at Launch of new Race Equality Guide for Hiring

I was honoured to be asked to give the keynote speech at the launch today of a new Race Equality Guide for Employers produced by DCU Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion @DCU_DI

This Guide puts the voices of underrepresented people right at the heart of what it does, and that was a very good reason for me to support its launch! I haven’t been involved in its production at all – that credit entirely goes to the team at DCU led by Sandra Healy, to the Race Equality Forum and its partners, and to Linda Keitasha.

You can find the Guide here: – a recording of the event will be made available soon too.

Keynote Address

I’m very honoured to be here to launch this Guide today, and thank you for inviting me. The Race Equality Guide is not only necessary, but it is an excellent example of good practice in supporting as well as encouraging progressive race equality measures.

I have been 17 years in this area of work, working with national and regional government, international organisations, private and public sector groups, migrants and ethnic minority people from a wide range of groups. There are 3 key things I have learned about making progress on race equality:

  1. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Racism adapts to local contexts and structures. Every country and every sector has to develop good practice and share it for real progress to be made.
  2. Race equality has to become part of our way of doing things. It is not a time-limited project, and it is not finished, because we are undoing centuries of barrier-building and undoing them in a world which does often not want to acknowledge those barriers exist at all. 
  3. There is a reason that Black and Ethnic Minority people are 5 times more likely to identify racism in the workplace than their colleagues. Not only do white employers and employees not experience racism in the majority, we don’t naturally see it either. We have to be prepared to view our institutions and practices in the workplace as more likely to perpetrate racism than not, and approach that problem openly and determinedly. And we have to be prepared to champion that work in a wide range of forums.

Thank you to all of the team in the DCU Centre of Excellence and the Race Equality Forum behind this Guide and the incredible work that has gone into it in the last months. The importance of this tool is not just in what it sets out to do in, but also in what it acknowledges:

  • A highly stratified labour market
  • Job precarity, financial precarity, and reduced choice in the labour market
  • And it draws on lived experiences of those in the labour market who have been affected by those barriers. It highlights the necessity of working in partnership with those with lived experience in order to understand and breakdown those barriers.

It is very important to say that this work is not optional – our society depends upon it, our business sectors depend upon it, our employers depend upon it. Yet too often it’s painted as an extra. Race equality in work is not something we can do, or should do, its something we MUST do. There are hard truths about segregation in the Irish labour market which have to be faced. There are legal protections for employees from racial discrimination, but too often discrimination is so embedded into the structures and practices of the labour market here that they cannot be unpicked and identified as single cases of discrimination. Our problem is not just conscious bias, or even unconscious bias, it’s the very structures we have built in order to do business. And the fact is that those structures do not have to discriminate for us to be effective in business. Rather, they are often shaped by a historic legacy which is not fit for the current world of work.

The segregation which currently exists in the Irish labour market is a series of barriers which are preventing workers from taking up jobs for which they are qualified – sometimes overqualified – and experienced, and preventing employers from benefiting from the wide pool of talent available in this country. We can think too not only of ensuring we get full access to our currently qualified pool of applicants, but of accessing tomorrow’s talent and ensuring employers can access them early and fully for maximum development opportunities.

Work is – I think it is widely acknowledged – first amongst equals in both measures and means of integration. Not only in terms of entry to the labour market but also in pay, promotion, income security, and working conditions. Integration is not a one-stage project for newcomers either, it is an ongoing project for the whole of a society, because our world changes every day, to ensure that all groups have opportunities to contribute and to benefit. The world of work offers us opportunities for stability, for respect, for social status, and for social relationships – all of these are crucial to an equitable society.  

For this reason, I am also really pleased to welcome the establishment of the Race Advisory Council. This is partnership in practice, and it’s something we hopefully we see a lot more of in future. I wish you the very best for your work, and I know that the discussions that you have will be enormously useful in extending the work started here.

I started by saying that we have to view our institutions and practices in the workplace as more likely to perpetrate racism than not, and approach that problem openly and determinedly. One of the things that has most impressed me in this Guide is the way in which it encourages and supports employers to practice authenticity and openness in their approach to race equality work. It is this which, for me, enables us to move beyond race equality as a ‘fix’ towards race equality as a mode of doing business.

Once again, congratulations to the DCU Centre of Excellence and to your Race Advisory Council for the production of this new Race Equality Guide, and many best wishes for the future work to follow. Beir bua agus beannacht libh go léir.

Racial profiling in Ireland – the everyday version

I'm being followed again' This is what racial profiling looks like in Ireland. Image magazine.

Though colleagues will very often hear me talking about the problems of racial profiling as they are related to policing and criminal justice, there is an everyday version of racial profiling which relates to the movement of people through a wide range of public and private spaces, from simple things like shopping to engaging with state agencies or applying for services.

In this new article in Image Magazine, in partnership with INAR, Angela O’Shaughnessy explores the everyday nature of racial profiling in Ireland, interviewing 4 people who have experienced it. I was happy to help out with the legal and political background to racial profiling in Ireland.

Extreme hate groups and their impact on inclusion in our communities

Over the past few months, my role as spokesperson with Fingal Communities Against Racism has been particularly focused on sharing what we know about the attraction of conspiracy theories, online anti-mask and anti-lockdown groups, and the role of extreme hate groups in Ireland and abroad in driving division in our communities.

Fingal Communities Against Racism was set up in autumn 2019 to counter a far-right election campaign in the region, and drive out the groups who were attempting to use the region to create anti-immigration and white nationalist narratives about our towns. You can read more about our work at

Since January 2021, I’ve spoken to a number of media outlets about our work to recognise and counter those movements through supporting people in every community to talk with those attracted to those ideas and reduce the likelihood of friends and family becoming attached to movements, events and ideas pushed by extreme hate groups.

Over 9,000 searches relating to far-right topics made by Irish people in past six months – The Irish Examiner

Conversations on Women’s Leadership – Launched! #IWD2021

To celebrate International Women’s Day here in Fingal, and the incredible contribution women make to the development of  our region, Fingal County Council Community Development Office are recognising and supporting women’s leadership through conversations about the challenges and opportunities women experience in setting out to improve our communities.

This week on behalf of Fingal County Council Community Development Office, I’m hosting a series of online conversations with women active in leadership in our area. I am joined by Geraldine Rooney, of the Centre for Independent Living Blanchardstown, Ayodele Yusuf, of Balbriggan Integration Forum, Bridie O’Reilly of the Fingal Older People’s Council, Shelly Gaynor, of the Independent Living Movement Ireland, and Catherine Joyce of Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group. I also talk to Anne Marie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, who is Fingal’s first woman in that role.

Together we talk about the challenges facing women getting started in community action, the kinds of problem-solving leadership that women are doing here in Fingal, and how that involvement in community has changed their lives and that of the community around them. Internationally, women are much less likely to describe themselves as being leaders, and much more likely to describe themselves as doing leadership, and that’s true too for our interviewees this week.

With decades of voluntary and professional work in the community between them, advocating for opportunities, resources, justice and social change, they emphasise the importance of seeing community leadership as a shared activity. You will hear their advice on building networks of support, being recognised for your work, the opportunities that open up through starting small, and ways of scaling up small community actions to more influential means of affecting decision making and policy across Fingal.

Geraldine Rooney talks to us about how her desire to see small changes led to a big change in direction for her, developing her skills and learning to see the bigger picture so that she could commit herself to building something much larger and effective than she had imagined at the start. We talk too about how women often feel too unskilled for community leadership when they are younger, but struggle with the silencing of older women’s voices when they become active later on. Developing younger women in community leadership skills is key, but so is recognising the experiences of older women who have come to community action after raising their families or juggling early careers, because they bring a lifetime of relevant skills with them. Their voice needs to be heard at decision-making tables.

Bridie O’Reilly tells us about how she learned the value of building a network of support for your leadership work and taking credit for your own work, so that you have the recognition and the resources to build on what you have achieved and leverage that value for wider influence to improve your community. She shares her experiences of community action as a younger woman, determined to build pride amongst young people in their area and in themselves, and more recently in her retirement as she has taken on the challenge of building a strong network to advocate for and with older people who are isolated from the wider community. In telling these stories, she shows us the way that opportunities come up in different times of our lives for us to build community solidarity and support. Not all of the projects we are involved in last for ever, but leadership is about filling the gap that’s there now, and creating collective responses that will positively change how we relate to and support one another.

Ayo Yusuf talks to us about the need for persistence in community action, asking people to take ownership of their ideas to improve their communities and be creative with those. Leadership is something anyone can do, no matter their starting point, and it’s a skill you learn the more involvement you have in your community. Learning to work with people is key, as everyone has different motivations and capacity to commit themselves to action. Getting discouraged is a common experience, but you can learn to move past that, finding the people around you who share your passion for your community and equally determined to get things done.

Catherine Joyce asks what we can do to improve coalition building between women leaders in different areas and around different issues, so that we can advocate together for and with one another in the different spaces we move in. She points out that women are always involved in problem-solving in local communities, around employment, schools, family supports, and raises the excellent point that we very often ask women to conform to an abstract idea of leadership, rather than looking at where community leadership is already embedded in women’s activities, and recognising and supporting that properly.

Shelly Gaynor shows us what self-advocacy can become, tracking the journey from self-advocate to advocate for others, and how we can better supported disabled women in participation and leadership in our community life. She highlights the value of getting involved young, and growing your experience and confidence as a leader.

And finally Anne Marie Farrelly talks to us about the ways in which women’s leadership contributes to the many aspects of community life we take for granted day-to-day, and how women’s voices can influence local decision-making. We talk about the changes that would make a big difference to those women who are already involved in community leadership and who would like to make bigger changes in our region for themselves and others

I’m very excited to hear and share their stories with you, and I hope you’ll join us through the week to meet and learn from 6  incredible women leading in community development in our region. We look forward to hearing about your experiences too, and your thoughts about how we can support women’s leadership in Fingal in future. Happy International Women’s Day from all of us to all of you.

Women in Community Leadership: Fingal County Council #IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge

Fingal County Council International Women's Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge

A Conversation on Women’s Leadership in the Community will celebrate women’s achievements and recognise challenges and opportunities that women experience when involved in community action.

Dr Lucy Michael will be joined in conversation by Geraldine Rooney, of the Fingal PPN and Centre for Independent Living Blanchardstown , Ayodele Yusuf, of Balbriggan Integration Forum, Bridie O’Reilly of the Fingal Older People’s Council, Shelly Gaynor, of the Independent Living Movement Ireland, Catherine Joyce of Blanchardstown Traveller Development Group and AnneMarie Farrelly, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council.

Please join them on celebrating International Women’s Day this 8th March. To register your interest and receive an invite to the launch click here

The Premiere of our film with these amazing women will take place on Monday 8 March at 1pm on YouTube

Capacity-building on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

DPO Coalition UN CRPD Information Webinar – Jan 2021
This presentation is an opportunity to learn about CRPD and what it means for you. We also explain about how Ireland reports to the UN and how you can become involved in this process. This video and the webinar where the content was originally presented are part of a process to create a Shadow Report to the UN on CRPD by the Disabled Persons Coalition (DPO Coalition).

2020 in review

2020 number blocks become 2021

Doing a quick review of 2020, and wow! what a year it has been!

Our 2020 projects included:
– #Policing and racial profiling
– Algorithmic bias and racism in #recruitment
– Training employers and recruiters to address barriers for migrant women applicants
– Integration programme design and evaluation training with local authorities and civil society orgs
– The impact of digital skills on #refugee integration
– Labour market assessments for pathway refugees
– The impact of #Covid19 on local integration programmes
– Rights awareness for people in the #InternationalProtection Process
– Supporting advocacy by #Disabled Peoples’ Organisations
– Racist incident reporting analysis
– Hate crime and #hatespeech briefings ahead of the new legislation
– Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey analysis with reference to #BlackLivesMatter (launch Jan 2021!)

So many exciting and valuable projects, great co-investigators and co-authors, and much to look forward to in 2021.

We are so privileged to have worked for and with such amazing people this year, and look forward to sharing more of our work with you in 2021!

#inclusionanddiversity #inclusionmatters #equality #humanrights #diversity #inclusion