Belfast Telegraph

Scholar's research shows Northern Ireland anti-racism policies are flawed

By Lindsay Fergus

Racism in Northern Ireland is a substantial and thriving problem despite the existence of policy and legislation designed to tackle it, according to research carried out by a PhD student from the University of Ulster

Fiona Haughey, who graduated at the Waterfront Hall today, explored how racism in Northern Ireland was being tackled from a policy perspective, focusing on the implementation of the Racial Equality Strategy.

"Based on my research, I would argue that moves towards tackling racism in Northern Ireland have been largely impeded by a lack of policy and legislative implementation."

In her findings Fiona, who is originally from Strabane, identified a number of obstacles that have stymied efforts to successfully challenge racism. These have included:

  • An absence of strategic policy direction and leadership from central Government in relation to tackling racism.
  • A lack of capacity and confidence within local government to address ongoing racism and take action on strategic policy to tackle the problem.
  • Continued poor engagement between local government and minority ethnics, especially via politicians.
  • Under-funding and poor management of resources by central Government for ethnic groups.
  • Addressing racism on a superficial basis through good relations rather than a strong anti-racist approach.
  • The continuing legacy of sectarianism has also shaped how racism is dealt with.

However, Fiona also found that some councils, albeit a small proportion, were starting to make some progress towards addressing the problem of racism in Northern Ireland. She added: "Overall, I concluded that Government anti-racist policy in Northern Ireland has not been implemented.

"In addition, my research fundamentally calls into question the effectiveness of strategies in place to tackle racism in Northern Ireland, as well as reflecting on a number of policy suggestions.

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