When the lives of minorities are in danger around the world, Ireland takes positive steps

Eileen Flynn & Hazel Chu
Support us and go ad-free

On 27 June, conservative rivals Fianna Fáil  and Fine Gael formed a so-called ‘historic’ government with the Green Party (GP). But meaningful history was made when new taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Micheál Martin appointed the first Traveller woman ever to the Seanad (Irish senate). This is Ireland’s upper house of parliament where any of its 60 members can introduce legislation.

Then, on 29 June, Dublin city elected GP councillor Hazel Chu as its lord mayor. She is the first Dublin lord mayor born to migrant parents. The lord mayor is the first citizen of the city, presides at meetings of its council, and acts as ambassador both locally and internationally.

As the world battles hate speech, and far right extremists with “anti-immigrant ideology” pose a danger to Ireland, these are important moves and real signs of hope.

Traveller ethnicity

On 1 March 2017, Travellers became recognised as a distinct ethnic group in Ireland. Traveller and Roma centre Pavee Point believes this recognition was an important step as it recognised that “Travellers experience racism and discrimination”.

It also allows for Travellers’ specific needs to be met and it rejects the “assimilationist policies and strategies” used to ‘solve’ the Traveller ‘problem’. Additionally it celebrates diversity in Irish society.

Discrimination against Travellers

However, even with this legal recognition, the Council of Europe says Travellers in Ireland still experience discrimination. Its report said:

Travellers are 38 times more likely to report discrimination with regard to access to shops, public houses and restaurants, than other ‘white Irish’ persons.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

And they are:

between 9 and 22 times more likely than other ‘white Irish’ persons to experience discrimination in access to housing

Eileen Flynn works as an activist and in community development. She took part in campaigns in Ireland on Traveller and women’s rights and abortion issues. And now that’s she’s a senator she’s in a position to introduce legislation. Her aim is to introduce legislation to deal with hate crime in Ireland.

Minority rights in Ireland

And while the position of Dublin city mayor is mainly ceremonial, Chu’s GP wanted to change its role. In 2016, the GP proposed legislation to make the position directly electable by the people. And while it hasn’t happened yet in Dublin, it did in Limerick city.

Chu was first elected to Dublin City Council in May 2019. And just over a year later she became its mayor with support from various political parties.

She has spoken up for a review of hate crime legislation in Ireland while personally experiencing online racist abuse. Ireland is one of the few countries in the EU without purpose-built anti-hate crime legislation.

Important steps

While far-right parties have gained ground in Europe and the US, far-right parties in Ireland have almost no electoral support. What’s more, recent electoral losses for the far right in local French elections are further cause for celebration.

But with widespread racist attitudes reported across Ireland, outright celebration is far from being an option. The 2020 US presidential election campaign and racist abuse against Black Lives Matter protesters give even more reason for concern.

The election and appointment of Chu and Flynn may be small steps, but they’re important ones. And as their positions can affect real change, they could grow to be even more important.

Featured image via YouTube – VideoParliament IrelandYouTube – GreenPartyIreland

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us