Ireland's steps to combat racial discrimination


The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) has recognised Irish progress on combatting racial discrimination, and cited areas of concern.

The UNCERD published its concluding observations following the examination of Ireland in December 2019 before the UNCERD in Geneva.

Progress report

In compiling its findings, UNCERD heard from Irish NGOs, as well as the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, who provided reports regarding Ireland’s compliance with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. UNCERD welcomed the submission of the fifth to ninth periodic reports of Ireland, while noting its disappointment over Ireland’s delay in submitting same. It welcomed a number of improvements since Ireland’s last examination in 2011. These included:

  • the International Protection Act which introduced a single application procedure for international protection in 2015
  • official recognition of Travellers as an ethnic minority in 2017, and
  • ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 20 March 2018.

Areas of concern

UNCERD also highlighted a number of areas of concern. Amongst these were, the inconsistent collection of statistics on the ethnic composition of the population, the increasing incidence of racist hate speech directed against Travellers, Roma, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, particularly through the Internet and social networking platforms, shortcomings in the Equal Status Acts 2000-2018 and the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2015 and the operation of the current Direct Provision system. Some of the recommendations included:

  • ensuring proper recording, investigation and prosecution of hate crime,
  • strengthening legislation on racist hate speech, as well as
  • developing an alternative reception model and taking concrete steps to phase out the Direct Provision system.

UNCERD concluded their observations by drawing the attention of the Irish Government to the particular importance of the recommendations contained in specified paragraphs, referencing inter alia, ensuring thorough investigation by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and an alternative reception model. It also called on the Irish Government to submit its combined 10th and 11th periodic reports by 28 January 2024.

More information


This article originally appeared in the February 2020 member eZine. For more information, and to subscribe, visit eNewsletters.