The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Michael McDowell, today welcomed the publication of the Third Report on Ireland by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), a body of the Council of Europe. 

The Tánaiste said; "I welcome this Report and, in particular, the recognition by ECRI of the significant progress made by Ireland since their last Report in 2001."

Since the last report, the European Convention on Human Rights has been incorporated into Irish law.  In addition, the Equal Status Act 2004 incorporates provisions in the EU Directives on equal treatment. 

In the area of diversity, ECRI praises the development of the National Action Plan Against Racism (NPAR) as a ‘commendable step in the fight against racism’.  ECRI also welcomes progress made by An Garda Síochána in the recruitment of people from minority backgrounds and in developing intercultural strategies.

The Tánaiste noted that the comments in the ECRI report are consistent with the positive findings of the UN and EU in relation to Ireland. He stated "In the fight against racism, Ireland is regarded by the UN as a ‘pioneer example of good practice’ and by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency as one of the top six countries in the EU in terms of its equality infrastructure, systems and processes in this area."

24 May 2007

Note for Editors

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is a body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent members from each member state.  Its aim is to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance at a pan-European level and from the angle of the protection of human rights. 

One of the pillars of ECRI’s work programme is its country-by-country approach, in which racism and intolerance in each of the member states of the Council of Europe are analysed. 

As part of the preparation for its third country report, ECRI visited in Ireland from 2-5 October, 2006.  Meetings were organised with government departments, other public institutions working in the equality area and non-governmental organisations. 

National Action Plan Against Racism
‘Planning for Diversity’, the National Action Plan Against Racism (NPAR), was launched in January 2005 by the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.  The plan will run until the end of 2008. 

The plan’s overall aim is to provide strategic direction to combat racism and develop a more inclusive, intercultural society in Ireland, based on a commitment to inclusion by design, not as an add-on or afterthought, and on policies that promote interaction, equality of opportunity, understanding and respect.  It is based on five objectives: protection, inclusion, provision, recognition and protection.

A steering group, involving a wide range of key stakeholders from government bodies, the social partners and broader civil society, including representatives of minority communities, oversees the implementation of the plan.

The NPAR budget, of €1.024 million in 2007, is used primarily to make strategic interventions in the implementation of the NPAR, to pursue specific research or consultancy projects in particular sectors and to undertake public awareness/information initiatives and grant schemes. 

Ireland was one of the few countries to develop a national action plan, the development of which originated from a commitment at the World Conference against Racism in 2001.