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discrimination Government must tackle 'micro-aggressions' against ethnic minorities, says human rights body

Micro-aggression is a term coined in the US meaning everyday, often unintentional expressions of racism, sexism or ageism

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IHREC chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney

IHREC chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney

IHREC chief commissioner Sinéad Gibney

The Irish Government must work towards addressing ‘micro-aggressions’ against ethnic minorities and a lack of accurate representation, according to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

Mental health impacts of racist incidents and discrimination must be taken seriously according to the State’s human rights body.

It said micro-aggressions and a lack of accurate representation have been highlighted by young people in ethnic minorities as having the most detrimental impact on their mental wellbeing, leading to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Micro-aggression is a term coined in the US meaning everyday, often unintentional expressions of racism, sexism or ageism. It is a comment that negatively targets a marginalized group of people.

The Commission has tasked the Department of Health and the HSE to increase access to, treatment in, and routes through the Irish healthcare service system for members of ethnic minority groups.

The State must also respond to the urgent need for Traveller-focused suicide prevention supports and support for the suicide bereaved.

Chief commissioner at the IHREC, Sinéad Gibney, said addressing racism in Ireland needs to be a priority.

“Addressing racism in Ireland requires mobilisation across Irish society. Put simply it needs to be a priority not only in our laws, our public services and our budgets, but also in the places where we learn, where we work, and where we meet,” she said.

“Ireland’s National Action Plan against Racism is an opportunity to focus our national will and energy towards ending racial discrimination and disadvantage, so that we can each benefit from the equal involvement of all.”

Ms Gibney said in order for the report to be effective it will need to be structured to include clear targets, indicators, outcomes, timeframes and a budget line.

She added: “Monitoring the delivery of the National Action Plan Against Racism must include participation of the people affected, and there should be an independent evaluation of both the process and outcomes of the plan, based on human rights and equality principles.”

“We see a need for prioritisation of policing and law enforcement in the content of Ireland’s National Action Plan Against Racism, as has been done in the European Anti-Racism Action Plan,” she said.

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The Commission published their recommendations today for Ireland’s National Action Plan Against Racism.

The report entitled ‘Developing a National Action Plan Against Racism’, sets out what needs to be done in areas such as policing, education, media, politics, employment and healthcare, making over 130 recommendations for State action

It highlights the need for anti-racism to be promoted across the political and public institutions of the State through systematic training and more diverse recruitment in our police, courts, healthcare and teaching professions.

Negative attitudes among Gardaí to ethnic minorities and reports of racial profiling in stop and searches must also be addressed.

The Commission also wants “specific targets” to be met when recruiting people form ethnic minorities into the police force in order to fully reflect the diversity of Irish society.

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