New figures on public attitudes reveal extent of racial prejudice in the North of Ireland.
‘This scale of racial prejudice in 2018 should shock us to our core’ – Patrick Corrigan
The North of Ireland has a huge problem with racism, Amnesty International said today, following the publication of new figures showing high levels of intolerance towards people from minority ethnic communities.
Amnesty is calling for a more robust government response to tackling racial prejudice in North of Ireland, including an independent review of the region’s equality and hate crime laws.
Figures from the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, published today, show that more than half of people surveyed would not willingly accept a Muslim (52%) or an Irish Traveller (56%) as a relative by way of marrying a close member of their family. Other statistics reveal that:
47% of people would not willingly accept a Muslim as a close friend;
25% of people would not willingly accept someone from an ethnic minority as a colleague at work;
47% of people think there is more racial prejudice in North of Ireland now than there was 5 years ago; only 13% of people believe racial prejudice has decreased over the period.
Patrick Corrigan, North of Ireland Programme Director for Amnesty International, said:
“These shocking figures show that the North of Ireland has a huge problem with racism. The levels of racial prejudice in our midst should serve as a wake-up call to politicians and officials charged with making the North of Ireland a better place to live for everyone.
“The fact that still in 2018 over half of the population would not willingly accept a Muslim or an Irish Traveller as a relative through marriage, or that a quarter of people would not willingly accept someone from an ethnic minority as a work colleague, should shock us to our core.
“These figures demonstrate that government in the North Ireland is utterly failing to tackle the deep-rooted racial prejudice which affects too many people here.
“Politicians and officials need to wake up to this prejudice, which makes the North Ireland a toxic place to live for too many people from minority ethnic and religious communities. We need a much more ambitious and joined-up strategy to tackle racial prejudice. That must include bringing our race equality laws into line with the rest of the UK, where the North of Ireland has fallen behind, and an improvement on prosecution and conviction rates for those responsible for race hate crimes.”
Despite these worrying findings, the survey did show strong levels of support amongst the North of Ireland public for providing protection to refugees: 64% of people think it is our duty to provide protection to refugees who are escaping persecution in their home country, while 57% agree and only 17% disagreed that people from Syria should be allowed to come to North of Ireland.
Patrick Corrigan said:
“It is clear that there is strong support among the North of Ireland public for providing asylum to those feeling war and persecution, whether in Syria or elsewhere. That is a very welcome recognition of our international human rights responsibilities and an indication that most people here have empathy and compassion for refugees. The government must build on this sentiment to create a truly welcoming a North Ireland for all.”
Amnesty is calling for the following steps in the North of Ireland:
*Race equality legislation should be strengthened to bring it into line with the UK Government’s international obligations relating to the promotion of human rights for racial minorities and other groups, and with the recommendations of international human rights monitoring bodies.
*The Department of Justice should initiate an independent review of hate crime legislation to consider the scope for improvement of current laws.
*Detailed data on hate crime and public perceptions regarding hate crime, comparable with other parts of the UK, should be collected and published.
With many thanks to: Amnesty International UK for the origional posting.
Some “terrible mistakes” were made in cases involving the Windrush generation facing deportation from the UK, says immigration minister Caroline Nokes.
Many long-term immigrants who arrived from the Commonwealth as children have been told they are here illegally.
The BBC understands Home Secretary Amber Rudd plans to set up a team in the Home Office to help those affected.
It follows a reversal by the prime minister, who will now discuss the issue with other Commonwealth leaders.
A meeting of leaders, which will take place this week, was announced amid growing calls for Theresa May to take action, including a letter from a cross-party group of 140 MPs.
Labour MP David Lammy tweeted that the meeting was a “small U-turn”, adding that he wanted the government to “guarantee the status of all the Windrush children caught up in this crisis” by the end of the day
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted it was “disgraceful” that the rights of the Windrush generation had been brought into question, calling on Mrs May to “answer serious questions about how this happened on her watch”.
Mrs May’s spokesman said the prime minister was clear that “no-one with the right to be here will be made to leave”.
He added that the PM is “aware that many people are unlikely to have documents that are over 40 years old”.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said he welcomed Mrs May’s decision to meet with other leaders, but added: “She must now go further and make an immediate commitment to recognise and secure the rights of Commonwealth citizens.”
They are known as the Windrush generation – a reference to the ship, the Empire Windrush, which brought workers from the West Indies to Britain in 1948.
Under the 1971 Immigration Act, all Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK were given indefinite leave to remain – but the right to free movement between Commonwealth nations was ended from that date onwards.
However, the Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it, meaning it is difficult for the individuals to now prove they are in the UK legally.
The BBC understands that Home Secretary Ms Rudd will make a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon to confirm the creation of a new team in her department to help the Windrush generation and ensure no-one loses their access to public services and entitlements.
She is also expected to waive fees so that those affected will not have to pay money for new documents to prove their status.
Mr Lammy has also tweeted that he has secured an urgent question in the Commons on Monday to push Ms Rudd for answers.
‘No question of right to remain’
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Ms Nokes said the Windrush generation had “contributed an enormous amount to our community [and] to our society” and that the government had “an absolute responsibility to make sure there are no more of these mistakes”.
Asked by ITV News if any people had been deported as a result of these “mistakes”, Ms Nokes said: “There have been some horrendous situations, which as a minister have appalled me.”
Told by the reporter “that’s a yes” and asked how many, she said: “No, I don’t know the numbers, but what I’m determined to do going forward is we’ll have no more of this.”
Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, said she wanted to reassure those affected, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “People who are in that situation, there is absolutely no question of their right to remain, and their right to gain access to services such as healthcare.”
A letter to the prime minister, co-ordinated by Mr Lammy, called for a “swift resolution of this growing crisis”.
It said: “We urge you to guarantee the status of all Commonwealth nationals whose right to remain is protected by law and to provide an effective, humane route to the clarification of their status.
“What is going on is grotesque, immoral and inhumane,” he said.
It was signed by 140 MPs including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston.
‘Not welcome’ in UK
Omar Khan, from the Runnymede Trust charity which has been involved in trying to tackle this issue, said the onus should be on the Home Office to help people find the documents they need.
He also called for an extension of legal aid to these cases.
He told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “These are individuals who do have legal rights – this is not really an amnesty. The issue is their ability to prove it through documentation is now quite difficult.”
Guy Hewitt, Barbados high commissioner, told the BBC: “I have held as a great honour the fact that I am the first London-born high commissioner for Barbados.
“This is the first time I have felt that the country of my birth is saying to people of my region ‘you are no longer welcome’.”
The Migration Observatory at Oxford University estimates there are 500,000 people resident in the UK who were born in a Commonwealth country and arrived before 1971.
People born in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries are thought to be more affected than those from other Commonwealth nations, as they were more likely to arrive on their parent’s passports without their own ID documents.
The Empire Windrush arriving at Tilbury Docks with 482 Jamaicans on board
Many have never applied for a passport in their own name or had their immigration status formalised, as they regarded themselves as British.
The Guardian newspaper has highlighted a number of cases of such people being threatened with deportation.
With many thanks to: BBC England for the origional story.
Oh dear I someone must tell Joanne the reason fences where put up on the Woodvale Road is because over continuing protests at Camp Twattell and to keep the peace you thick simple gullible loyalist bigot
With many thanks to: Support the people of Carrickhill.