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Northern Ireland Executive in the dock over its failure on racial equality

Watchdog warns strategy to tackle prejudice lacklustre and out-of-date

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Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

�INPHO/Declan Roughan

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Lack of progress towards racial equality requires meaningful action from Stormont, the Equality Commission has said.

Leadership from the government is needed now, chief commissioner Geraldine McGahey said.

A Stormont motion to be debated today asks the Assembly to acknowledge that the Racial Equality Strategy 2015-25 has not been fully implemented and is already out-of-date.

Ms McGahey said: "We will only succeed in tackling racism and achieve racial equality in Northern Ireland if we have high level commitment and leadership from government and we need it now."

She said the Black Lives Matter movement and the stark impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on ethnic minority communities has brought the need for racial equality to the fore.

Ms McGahey added: "I have met with people from ethnic minority communities living here and listened to their stories and experiences; many are harrowing.

"There is real concern about the lack of progress towards racial equality. We need to see real and meaningful action by government now."

She urged the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to ensure that the Executive and all departments complete the actions outlined in the existing Racial Equality Strategy, and develop them further to eliminate racism and racial discrimination, tackle prejudicial attitudes and institutional racism and reform the law.

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Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Ms McGahey said: "Surely we all want to live in a society where everyone feels safe and valued. We all have a role to play, whether that is professionally or personally.

"By working together to eliminate racial discrimination, we can ensure that people from all races and ethnic backgrounds are treated with dignity and respect.

"There is much work to be done and it must start now."

The Equality Commission sees law reform, tackling prejudicial attitudes and effective monitoring and evaluation, supported by robust data collection, as vital in advancing racial equality in Northern Ireland.

It has called on the Executive to beef up protections for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) individuals in Northern Ireland, saying that they currently have less protection against racial discrimination, harassment and victimisation than people in other parts of the UK.

The commission is also concerned about negative attitudes toward BME groups in Northern Ireland, as well as difficulties faced around health, employment, housing social welfare and education.

Racist incidents here are running at more than three per day, according to the PSNI.

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Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

�INPHO/Declan Roughan

Sinister: Racist graffiti daubed on houses across Northern Ireland

In the period July 2018-June 2019 the PSNI recorded 890 racist incidents, including 596 racist crimes.

June this year saw 107 racist incidents recorded by the police - an average of more than three per day - including 65 racist crimes, according to the latest quarterly figures released by the PSNI.

Belfast Telegraph