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. We are grateful for all our team members and partners and how they help us to further our work on equity, inclusion and justice.
Our clients this year in Ireland, the UK and Europe included:
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 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).
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.
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/
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 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.
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.
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.
We recently conducted a survey on behalf of the Archbishop of Armagh amongst members of the Church of Ireland, seeking views and examples of good practice on Ethnic Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Justice matters.
The survey results have been shared with the Archbishop and working group, and recommendations are now being developed for the Church to consider.
At the recent General Synod (the annual all-island decision-making meeting of the Church), the Archbishop shared some of his thoughts on the survey results, where he addressed issues of welcome, inclusion and historical acknowledgement.
The Archbishop’s speech (section on survey only – full speech at https://www.ireland.anglican.org/news/11313/general-synod-2022-presidential-address
“You may remember that last year I mentioned a piece of research into ethnic diversity, inclusion and racial justice in the Church of Ireland that I had commissioned. The research project was designed by Dr Lucy Michael (a member of this Synod for the Diocese of Dublin) and in collaboration with a small group of clergy and readers from a range of ethnic backgrounds. The results of the research survey have been written up over the past week or so and will, I hope, form the basis of some practical work closer to the ground which will be planned and rolled out in the coming year. As I have said repeatedly in General Synod and elsewhere, any family (and the Church of Ireland is a family) derives its vigour and interest, not from the family resemblances of its member’s, but from the differences that exist between them, including differences of ethnicity and colour. The results of the survey show that we are indeed a welcoming Church, but also that we are hesitant about what to do after we’ve said “hello”.
To generalise from what I have been able to take in from the hard data of the survey, it seems we are more likely to go on to say “I hope you are able to enjoy the riches we have on offer”, rather than “tell us about your experience of God and your thoughts about his Church and his World”, much less “how can you help us deepen our experience of these things?”. I think the results of the survey show that we recognise the benefits of inclusion, but are uncertain about how to turn that recognition into meaningful participation. We need to do some work on that.
Although perhaps not the finding of the survey with the most far-reaching implications, the one which stands out most prominently is around an insufficient acknowledgment by the Church of our entanglement in the past with slavery. As far as I can tell it’s not a statue-destroying militancy, but a heartfelt desire for an understanding based on accurate facts and an appreciation of the legacy that the gruesome reality of slavery has left. Nor is it about the “enormous condescension of posterity” (there is also an appreciation of the part the Church played in the abolition of the slave trade) but an appeal for clear-eyed appreciation of our actions and inactions in the past, and a willingness to address them.
Up until now this project has been something of a personal initiative of my own but the aim is to embed it much more widely throughout the Church of Ireland. This work is important for a number of reasons, not least perhaps in helping us explain to ourselves why, in a world of migration, the numbers of people of different race and colour, are very low in the Church of Ireland. It is true that many may not be Anglicans when they come to Ireland. But it is known that migrants are much more likely to “shop around” for a spiritual home when they arrive in their adoptive country. It might be useful to know why people have popped their heads around our shop door and decided “it’s not for us”.
But it’s important for a much more fundamental reason, which is that, regardless of numbers, Christian pastoral ministry is about the spiritual well being of every individual. And to do that we need to make the effort to see what other people see and hear what other people hear. It is not only the Anglican Communion that is held together by bonds of affection, but each parish and faith community. And in this instance, as I’ve said repeatedly, it means that we can credibly consider ourselves as fully part of the Catholic Church. As disciples of Jesus Christ we are not free to satisfy all of our appetites but we have a vocation to satisfy the desire for knowledge and understanding which the survey reveals. I look forward to the work which we can do in the year ahead to make this more of a reality.