Accountability needed from State to Combat Racism


The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has welcomed the publication of the National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR), prepared by the Department of Children, Equality, Integration and Youth.

One of our four Strategic Priorities for 2022-2024 is Respect and Recognition, where we promote the eradication of racism, ableism, ageism and sexism, through public understanding and State action. In September 2021 we made extensive recommendations to the Anti-Racism Committee for the NAPAR.

Society cannot be inclusive or fair without addressing the structural and institutional arrangements, practices, policies and cultural norms, which have the effect of excluding or discriminating against individuals or groups based on their identities. We welcome the fact that NAPAR “is rooted in a commitment to human rights values, democracy and the rule of law”, and that it recognises the State’s obligation to respect and protect human rights, and the roles of private actors.”

However, we are concerned that NAPAR lacks specificity. There is no detail on the lead body for the priority actions, or where funding will come from. It is worrying that many of the actions have no timeline or implementing body identified. We acknowledge that this Plan is a high-level framework, and the detail will be provided by each Department or agency with responsibility for an action. However, there is no accountability framework currently in place to ensure sanctions where this does not occur in practice.


  • We welcome the fact that the NAPAR acknowledges the intersection of discrimination based on gender and oppression based on race and that, because of this intersectionality, women and men can experience racism differently. We must also acknowledge the intersectionality between diverse identities.
  • We also note that an important key principle underpinning the plan is that affected groups should participate in the development and oversight of all government policy and initiatives and targeted measure to address racism. The principle of participation should underpin all activities that seek to promote and protect the rights of people affected by racism or racial discrimination.
  • We welcome the NAPAR recommendation that our capacity to monitor compliance with the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty should be strengthened and that the scope of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty should be clarified, and steps taken to provide assurance that where public money is being spent, there is adherence to the Duty. However, there is no timeline, implementing body or resources allocated to this recommendation.
  • The announcement that an independent Special Rapporteur on Racial Equality and Racism will be appointed by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is promising as is the fact that the Special Rapporteur will report annually to the Minister. However, the lack of a specific timeline is concerning.
  • We are also pleased that the report acknowledges the important role of the collection and dissemination of disaggregated data, as recommended, and will measure the objectives of the Plan through the use of both qualitative and quantitative data and research.
  • While it is encouraging that the NAPAR has included our recommendation in relation to identifying victims of trafficking for labour exploitation, we regret that the Plan does not sufficiently acknowledge the links between the crime of trafficking and racism.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said:

“Racial discrimination is devastating for those targeted. Our recent report, Experiences of Second-Generation Ethnic Minority Young People in Ireland, showed that racism in Ireland comes in many forms, not just at the extremes, and can have a very negative effect on a person’s self-esteem and self-worth.

“Tackling racism is a long-term project which requires a sustained focus and coherent leadership from the State. While we are pleased that the first step has been taken in the publication of the NAPAR, to be effective it will need to strictly adhere to clear targets, outcomes, timeframes and a budget line.

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



For further information, please contact:

Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 852 9641 / 087 468 7760

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.