Head of NICEM expresses concerns over Racial Equality Strategy document

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THE Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) has expressed its concerns over the OFMDFM’s Racial Equality Strategy.

The organisation said it welcomed the publication of the Racial Equality Strategy document, in the wake of recent high profile racist attacks and the First Minister’s Islamophobic remarks and racist controversy. However, NICEM has expressed serious concerns about its ability to deliver racial equality in Northern Ireland,

NICEM’s Executive Director, Patrick Yu, said: “The proposed strategy is much weaker than the previous Racial Equality Strategy, which expired in 2010.”

He added that the consultation document “lacks accountability and governance mechanisms, detailed action plans and clear objectives and a timetabled commitment to tackle the legislative disparity in racial discrimination protection between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

“Ethnic minorities have suffered racial inequality, socio-economic disadvantage and systematic discrimination as a consequence of this inaction, despite the fact that the Government is both the largest employer and the largest service provider in Northern Ireland.”

Mr. Yu also listed other key shortcomings in the consultation documents, such as the fact that the evidence base for racial inequality provided by the document is weak and unreflective of the current context, and the fact that the document doesn’t take account of cross-cutting departmental issues,such as poverty and child care, or issues of multiple identity,such as the particular difficulties faced by ethnic minority women in the employment field.

He also pointed out that “most of all, the document fails to recognise the contribution that ethnic minorities make to the NI economy and society more broadly, with respect to the benefits of racial, religious and linguistic diversity.

“Between 2004-2008 migrant workers (EU and non-EU) contributed over £1.2 trillion Gross Valued Added (GVA) to our local economy and created almost 40,000 jobs. Given the significant demographic changes in Northern Ireland since the previous document and the recent spate of high profile racist violence, coupled with the rise of poverty amongst ethnic minority communities, it is essential that all political parties, ethnic minority community members and the wider community respond to this consultation and demand a robust strategy that is fit for purpose.”

NICEM will be hosting an event, at 5.30 pm on Monday, September 8, in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast, to discuss the issues arising from the Racial Equality Strategy with community members. Catering will be provided. Please RSVP to lukek.nicem@gmail.com.

NICEM’s full response to the draft Strategy, along with accompanying briefing documents and details of NICEM’s consultation events, can be accessed on NICEM’s website:

http://nicem.org.uk/about-us/racial-equality-strategy-2014

 

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