Call for ‘meaningful action’ from Stormont on racial equality

The issue of racial equality has been brought to the fore by the Black Lives Matter movement. Credit: UTV

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 – ahead of a Stormont motion to be debated on Monday around the Racial Equality Strategy 2015-25.

The motion asks the Assembly to acknowledge that the strategy has not been fully implemented and is already out of date.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.

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.

Geraldine McGahey, Equality Commission

Ms McGahey has 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.

She 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.”