Youth Council welcomes new National Action Plan Against Racism for Ireland
Calls for plan to be fully resourced and keep young people to the fore
“I’m stopped by the Gardai and asked for my bag. My white friends are told to move on.”
Racial discrimination and exclusion are still issues in the daily lives of young people in Ireland and we need a fully funded plan to tackle them. That’s according to the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people.
In its submission on the Government’s National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR) the NYCI has published new data on attitudes to racism, as well as qualitative information gathered through youth consultations. Speaking ahead of today’s publication of the submission, NYCI’s Valery Molay said:
“While these issues are not new, young people are more aware of them than most, and the youth work sector is ideally placed to tackle them. We must not lose sight of this as any new plan is drawn up.
Red C: young people more likely to see racial discrimination as important issue
A new Red C poll commissioned by the NYCI highlights that 18–24-year-olds are more likely than other age groups to see racial discrimination as an important issue:
- 79% of those aged 18 – 24 stated that racism is a significant issue online (compared with 69% on average).
- 77% of those aged 18 – 24 stated that Ireland needs a National Action Plan Against Racism (compared with 66% on average),
- 80% of those aged 18 – 24 recognised that racism is having a negative impact on Irish society (compared with 63% on average),
However, 64% of those aged 18 – 24 also believe that racism is more significant in other countries, and only 44% of those aged 18 – 24 stated that racism is an issue in the area they live; this compares to 21% in the general population.
“These lower figures correspond with evidence from NYCI’s other research that has consistently shown that people are less likely to see racism that is not overt or experienced at an individual level,” explained Ms Molay.
“Many young people complain that when they report racism in school or to Gardai their experience is dismissed as being ‘not racist’. In addition, people do not see the pervasive nature of racism in structural and institutional forms.
“However, the figure of 80% of those aged 18 – 24 who recognise the negative impact it has on society does indicate increased awareness of racism amongst younger people,” said Ms Molay.
Young people speaking at a recent consultation on the development of the National Action Plan Against Racism highlighted a range of concerns:
“Policing affects me daily. I wear a backpack cos I’m going to school. I’m stopped by the Gardai and asked for my bag. My white friends are told to move on.” (Male from Asian descent)
“I fear I will be the only black person in the room. I go in worrying – will someone touch my hair, make a comment.” (Black female from the Midlands)
“People just look at our names and make assumptions. You wonder how and where will you get employment.” (Male, from Middle Eastern descent doing postgraduate study in Dublin)
“We need a plan that is felt, seen and heard in our communities.” (Black male from the Midlands)
Recognise the role of youth work and make sure young people are never overlooked
The submission by the NYCI provides a number of recommendations including calls to recognise and fund the unique role of youth work as an effective route to tackling racism; and to recognise that young people are at particular risk from the negative effects of racism and should be named in all aspects of the NAPAR so that they are not overlooked.
Implementation and strong political leadership key
According to the NYCI this new National Action Plan Against Racism for Ireland needs to be fully costed and funded, be cross departmental and cross-sectoral, be long-term in scope, have clear timelines, concrete objectives, and measurable outcomes.
The submission also calls for a new National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism to support coordination, implementation and monitoring of the National Action Plan and a Minority Ethnic Youth Action Plan.
“Lessons must be learned from the previous NAPAR which was a strong document but poorly resourced, with few actions implemented. This NAPAR for Ireland should be based at the highest level within the Department of An Taoiseach and involve all government departments to steer, implement, monitor, and report on the plan.
“This plan is a huge opportunity to make real inroads in tacking racism, and this issue is too important for us to let the plan falter due to insufficient resourcing or buy-in,” concluded Ms Molay.
Read the complete submission.
Contact: Daniel Meister, NYCI Communications Manager: 087 781 4903 or email@example.com
Notes to Editors:
- About National Youth Council of Ireland
The National Youth Council of Ireland is a member-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. www.youth.ie
Sources and methodology
In April 2021, NYCI commissioned Red C to undertake an online poll of 1025 adults aged 18+ during 16th and 22nd April 2021. Respondents were recruited using RED C LIVE, RED C’s online panel of over 40,000 members. Quota controls were used to ensure a nationally representative sample of ROI adults aged 18+, with interlocking quota to provide extra confidence in sample profile. Data was weighted across gender, age, region and social class to ensure a representative sample based on the latest CSO projections.
For more see fully referenced submission available at
Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 1: Recognise and fund the unique role of youth work as an effective route in tackling racism.
Recommendation 2: Recognise that young people are a particular cohort at risk from the negative effects of racism, especially in relation to their sense of identity and belonging. Young people should be named in all aspects of the NAPAR so that they are never overlooked.
Recommendation 3: Implementation is key with strong political leadership:
This new National Action Plan Against Racism for Ireland needs to be fully costed and funded, be cross departmental and cross-sectoral, be long-term in scope, have clear timelines, concrete objectives, and measurable outcomes. Lessons must be learned from the previous NAPAR which was a strong document but was poorly resourced with few actions implemented. This NAPAR for Ireland should be based centrally at the highest level within the Department of An Taoiseach and involve all government departments to steer, implement, monitor, and report on the plan.
A new National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism must be in place to support coordination, implementation and monitoring of the National Action Plan. The Committee must have representation from the youth work sector alongside other key stakeholders.
We need a Minority Ethnic Youth Action Plan implemented by DCEDIY and other relevant departments and key stakeholders.
Recommendation 4: Data collection must be disaggregated by ethnicity, religion and age to measure gaps and trajectories of success. Collation of comprehensive and consistent data on the reporting of racism and discrimination by civil and statutory bodies is critical. Without data we cannot systematically measure discrimination or changes over time to better target responses, resourcing, and support that young people need.
Recommendation 5: Increase diversity amongst staff and volunteers at all levels in public bodies, institutions, NGOs, educational settings, business, healthcare, politics, and civil society. This long-term goal needs to be ambitious. It involves delivery across a range of institutions and to be named in all relevant strategies/policies – including within the youth work sector – to make this a reality.
- Key to ensuring responsive, diverse and inclusive workplaces, that are welcoming and supportive of ethnically diverse colleagues, it is critical that there is leadership, awareness–raising and understanding, and that workplaces are held to account.
Recommendation 6: There is a need to implement long-term plans to address the under-employment of minority ethnic communities and take seriously the admission and retention of minority ethnic young people in mainstream employment. This involves both measures to make the workforce more inclusive and measures to penalise discrimination.
Recommendation 7: On education there is a need for:
- The integration of anti-racism education into the National Action Plan Against Racism is a key priority. Engagement with the Irish public is essential, through formal, non-formal. informal and life-long learning opportunities, so all can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to eliminate systemic racism and race-based disparities and to take the action needed to confront and end racism.
- We call for a forum of interests/ cross-departmental approaches involving Departments of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, the Department of Foreign Affairs/Irish Aid, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, and the Department of Social Protection to work collaboratively with all education partners, adopting a cross-sectoral approach to eliminating systemic, race disparities in education.
Recommendation 8: On Access to Justice there is a need to:
- Ensure greater transparency in policing and increased diversity awareness,
- Extend the nine grounds to include socio-economic status,
- Ensure the safety and regularisation of undocumented people,
- Address concerns for young people in the International Protection System.
Recommendation 9: Tackle hate speech, online racist content, white supremacy, and the far-right through sanctions, funding the far-right observatory, building trust, funding education and awareness.
Recommendation 10: Uphold and reinforce rights to accommodation, including the right to live in accommodation where occupants can live free and protected from racist incidents
Recommendation 11: Ensure that measures are taken to create mainstream health and mental health services that are staffed by people who have cultural and religious competencies to meet the needs of minority ethnic young people, including Travellers.
Recommendation 12: Resource youth arts programmes which enable young people from minority ethnic backgrounds to participate in the arts, including in arts experiences which are led by practitioners/artists from their own communities or in programmes which draw on the arts practice of their own cultural identities.
Resource and support young minority ethnic artists into career development and progression.
Recommendation 13: Create safer spaces and opportunities for the lived experience of young people to inform policy and practice.
Recommendation 14: Initiatives to improving access to services for minority ethnic young people include: developing a code of practice for services and businesses; delivering cultural competence awareness raising education; applying Public Sector Duty reform; developing forms of redress where rights are withheld or compromised.