Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre is backing calls by a UN Anti-Racism body for Irish politicians to be investigated, prosecuted and punished for acts of hate speech during election campaigns.

“We cannot be complacent about racism or racist hate speech,” said Martin Collins, Co Director, Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre.

“Elections that are free from anti-minority discourse are essential for democracy to flourish,” said Mr. Collins “And we are calling on all political parties, election candidates and voters to dump candidates who resort to racist measures. 

UN CERD concerned about racist hate speech

“People from minorities, including Travellers and Roma, need to be able to look forward to the future with confidence. That is not the case at the moment.”

Since comments about Travellers and asylum seekers by some candidates in the 2018 presidential election and the 2019 local elections, a UN Anti-Racism Body has called on Ireland to crackdown on racist hate speech by politicians. 

The recommendation to the Irish Government from the UN Convention for the Elimination for Racial Discrimination (CERD) came after two days of examination of Ireland by the international body.  

In its Concluding Observations UN CERD states its concern about the frequent incidents of racist hate speech made by Irish politicians, especially during election campaigns.

Strong leadership needed

“Currently consultations on strengthened hate speech legislation are being held by the Department of Justice & Equality.  We need any future Government to lead the way on this,” said Martin Collins.

“The current Government announced it was to establish a committee to examine the issues of racism in Ireland but we want the new Government to go further. 

“The new Government needs to develop and implement a new comprehensive National Action Plan Against Racism with full involvement, at all stages, of Traveller and Roma organisations and other affected groups. 

“It is also necessary to have adequate resources for its implementation and an associated independent national committee.”

Racism rising in political discourse 

“Racism in political discourse is also a global issue and we need to show solidarity with other minorities around the world,” said Gabi Muntean of Pavee Point’s Roma Programme,

“Recent elections in Ireland have resulted in a rise in racist discourse.  We also see a rise in racist violence, harassment and abuse and online hate speech,” she said.

“We must not wait for the emergence of extreme political parties and politicians in Ireland.”

Anti racism election protocol

Currently all political parties are signed up to an anti-racism election protocol, but this protocol needs to be strictly implemented.

In signing up to this protocol, re-established by the Irish Network Against Racism after the National Action Plan Against Racism 2004-2008, politicians promise to conduct debate in a responsible way that does not target marginalised and vulnerable groups.  Politicians also promise to use election materials that reflect the diversity of our society.

“Racism only serves to create an ‘us and them’ situation when, in fact, it is only by working as an inclusive whole that we can hope to tackle inequalities,” added Mr. Collins.

Further Information

UN CERD concluding observations

Why we need a new National Action Plan Against Racism