|Seamus Heaney 1939-2013||30 Aug 2013|
|"I have a dream"-The iconic speech 50 years on||28 Aug 2013|
|"I have a dream" speech still relevant today||28 Aug 2013|
|120 Racism incidents responded to in 12 months||22 Aug 2013|
|Domestic Violence Case Study: Liwei||15 Aug 2013|
|Domestic Violence Case Study: Grace||12 Aug 2013|
|Immigration law shortfall leaves people trapped in life of violence||09 Aug 2013|
|Racism hearings an opportunity to end complacency||31 Jul 2013|
|Irish new citizenship rates amongst lowest in Europe||28 Jul 2013|
|Online hate accounting for 10% of racism cases||22 Jul 2013|
Seamus Heaney 1939-2013
We are all deeply saddened by the death of Seamus Heaney.
Here we recall his words from The Cure at Troy.
“Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.
The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.
History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.
Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky
That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.”
"I have a dream"-The iconic speech 50 years on
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
'I have a dream' a speech with lessons for today Denise Charlton, Immigrant Council of Ireland Writes for the Journal.ie
As the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King Junior's "I have a dream" speech is commemorated across the globe, today we also have an opportunity to reflect on its message which is just as relevant now as it was when it was first delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
At the Immigrant Council of Ireland we are marking the anniversary across our social media, with content on our website www.immigrantcouncil.ie and by participating in events in conjunction with Dublin City Council and the US Embassy.
Dr King's message and the most memorable part of his speech apparently was not planned - but came towards the end when he deviated from his script and outlined his dreams of freedom and equality arising from a land of slavery and hatred.
The result was a speech which became iconic for a generation and has been deemed the most important delivered in America in the 20th century.
Five decades on, it is unfortunate that there are parts of his dreams which have not been realised, not just in the United States but also here in Ireland.
Dr King envisioned a time when 'little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers'. However when we look at the rapid changes in our own country over the past 15-20 years can we honestly say that they have been matched with proper integration.
In the past 12 months the Immigrant Council of Ireland has responded to 120 incidents of racism and provided support, advice and assistance to victims.
While the incidents cover a broad spectrum, it is worth noting that more than 1-in-10 (11%) involved actual physical violence while a further 7% involved the threat of violence.
We have responded to cases where victims have been subjected to unprovoked attacks even on the street, in addition families have returned to their homes to find them broken into and daubed with racist graffiti and slogans while in their own communities, at sports grounds, on public transport and many other areas people are subjected to verbal abuse.
These are incidents which should be from a different era - they were unacceptable when Dr King spoke on 28th August 1963 and they are unacceptable now.
Often our reports on racism are dismissed with some people arguing 'harmless' or 'innocent' remarks said in the heat of the moment are blown out of proportion. However, instead of looking at such incidents from the point of view of the perpetrator we would ask that they would be examined from the view of the victim.
These remarks often delivered over a sustained period can create an air of intimidation, heighten division and have a psychological impact.
No-one is arguing that Ireland is a racist country. On the contrary we have escaped the right wing extremism which has re-emerged in large parts of Europe and which has also drifted into mainstream politics.
However, there are warning signs for Ireland which do require closer examination, changes in policy and a more robust response.
Complacency and lack of awareness allow racism to fester.
Earlier this year in order to overcome barriers which were preventing people from coming forward to report racism we, together with public transport partners, mounted an extensive awareness campaign.
The impact was immediate, we saw the number of incidents we respond to rise from an average of one a week to eight a week at the start of this summer.
The figures speak for themselves and show that there is something amiss in Irish society which we would ignore at our peril.
We have made a number of recommendations on the back of the figures, including the establishment of a national database which will quickly highlight policy areas which require action.
We are also calling on agencies of the State to introduce procedures to ensure that a message goes out loud and clear that there is no acceptable level of racism.
At the Immigrant Council we also working with the politicians, the Gardaí, Dublin City Council and many others to ensure that each has a robust response to the problem.
If you see or experience racism you can report it to email@example.com
Today we will remember Dr Martin Luther King Junior. No doubt through media you will at some stage during the anniversary hear and see his remarks. We ask that you don't view them as part of the past but look at them in terms of where Ireland is today and the lessons we can learn from those historic words.
Published in the Journal.ie (28/8/2013)
1 in 10 cases involve physical violence
Summer shows huge increase with average of 8 incidents a week
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has responded to 120 racist incidents in the past 12 months according to a detailed study of cases published today.
The findings show a surge in reported cases during this summer with 23 cases responded to in June and a further 29 last month, compared to 3 cases in July of 2012.
People of an African background are those most likely to be victims while those who inflict racism are most likely to be Irish born.
The levels of reported cyber and online racism continue to grow while overall one in ten cases involve physical violence used against people.
The Council is making a number of recommendations including a call for Ireland to ratify a European Convention which calls for online acts of racism and xenophobia, including the production and distribution of offensive material to be criminalised
Publishing the study, Denise Charlton Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“There are a number of alarming aspects to our findings, which are the result of a detailed examination of 120 cases where the Immigrant Council of Ireland has provided follow up advice and support to victims over the past year (July 2012-July 2013).
It is clear that racism takes many forms with people reporting verbal harassment (39.2%), discrimination (33.3%) and written harassment (20.8%) as the most common forms. However it is particularly shocking that physical violence (11.7%) and the threat of physical violence (5.8%) is so prevalent in a society which prides itself on being open, fair and just for all.
The issue of cyber racism has come to the fore in recent months (16.7% of all incidents) and requires particular examination. We believe Ireland should now ratify conventions of the Council of Europe which would outlaw such acts. A delay of over a decade in ratifying is leaving people open to online abuse and bullying. Racism is unacceptable in every form and the internet should not be a place where bullies can use anonymity to spread their messages of hate.
The analysis also shows that incidents can occur at a variety of locations, the fact that one-fifth of cases occur in the workplace (20%) shows our current laws are failing to provide places of employment which are free from racism. It is also worrying that 13% of people came across racism when accessing Government, Community or Customer Services.
The increase in incidents reported to the Immigrant Council of Ireland over the 12 month period, culminating in a very busy summer where at times we were responding to an average of 8-incidents a week, while very concerning also show that progress is being made in overcoming barriers which had in the past made people reluctant to come forward.
As a frontline agency we are committed to contributing to any debate on how Ireland should respond to this issue.
We are making a number of recommendations:
- The ratification of Council of Europe Conventions and Protocols on cyber crime and online racism
- The establishment of a national database to ensure policymakers and others have access to information which truly reflects the reality of racism in Ireland
- The introduction of policies across statutory bodies and service providers making clear there is no acceptable level of racism
The Immigrant Council of Ireland remains fully committed to working with the Government, the Gardaí and other agencies to ensure that there is no acceptable level of racism in this country.”
Case Study 1
Liwei, a Chinese national, arrived in Ireland in 2011 having lived with her Irish husband in Hong Kong for the previous 10 years. Previous to their return to Ireland, her husband had become increasingly violent towards her and was controlling her finances and who she interacted with.
Liwei thought that moving back to Ireland would help their relationship as being near his family may force him to change his behaviour. When they arrived in Ireland, the opposite happened and her husband's behaviour towards her deteriorated further.
Liwei sought the protection of a refuge in 2012 and took out a protection order and barring order against her husband. As her husband had controlled her access to finances and her interaction with immigration authorities, she had no finances available to her and her immigration status in Ireland had expired.
Liwei spent three months attempting to remedy her situation, on the one hand corresponding with the immigration authorities regarding her legal status in Ireland, and on the other attempting, to no avail, to receive the minimum financial assistance available to contribute to her stay in the women’s refuge.
Only with the intervention of the Immigrant Council of Ireland did her Community Welfare Officer agree to pay Liwei emergency payments while her immigration difficulties were being remedied.
During this period Liwei had considered returning to her husband due to the lack of other options available to her.
Case study: Grace
Grace arrived in Ireland in 2006 as an International Student studying at an Irish third level institution. In 2008 she met her partner, a non-EEA national with full residency status in Ireland. They entered into a relationship and moved in together in 2010.
Grace gave birth to their daughter Joy in 2011. Joy was automatically an Irish citizen based on her father’s residency in Ireland. Soon after their daughter’s birth, Grace's partner became violent towards her and after six months of physical and psychological abuse, he abandoned Grace and their daughter and moved to the UK.
Grace could not afford to continue to pay the rent on their apartment and moved in with a friend soon after. She was afraid to approach the immigration authorities as she was no longer able to continue her studies while looking after her daughter, as a result Grace's immigration status had expired.
When Grace approached the Immigrant Council of Ireland she said she was unable to pay for nappies and other essentials for her daughter. What little money her friend was able to give her went on food for her daughter, with Grace going hungry.
With the assistance of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Grace was eventually able to fix her immigration situation, but did not have the €300 required to reregister with the Gardai. This money was raised with the assistance of the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the St Vincent De Paul.
Domestic Violence victims must be offered protections under Immigration laws
Call for Dáil hearings to commence as matter of urgency
People are feeling trapped in violent relationships because of the failure of Irish immigration law to offer proper protections to victims of domestic violence the Immigrant Council of Ireland has warned today (Friday Aug 9th 2013).
In a submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee (see note to editors) campaigners are warning that victims are not coming forward because of fears it could impact on their ability to remain in the country and this shortfall is leaving people open to threats, abuse and violence.
The Immigrant Council is also highlighting shortfalls in the provision of emergency accommodation and welfare support to victims and is calling for promised Dáil hearings on the matter to start next month.
In a submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee the Council is seeking action in four areas.
- The need to formally recognise domestic violence in immigration law
- Reform of current administrative practices
- The provision of safe emergency accommodation as well as welfare benefits
- That the Irish government sign and ratify the Council Of Europe Convention on Combating and Preventing Violence against Women and Domestic Violence as a matter of urgency
Brian Killoran, Information and Referral Service Manager at the Immigrant Council said:
“It is clear that while a positive step was taken by the Irish immigration authorities to publish information in 2012 that outlines their approach to situations of this nature, the problem persists that there are people in this country who feel trapped in violent relationships because of fears that their status in Ireland is dependent on their spouse. In recent years our frontline services assisted in 54 cases where domestic violence was a factor, 8 of these cases were in 2013, through our work we are also aware of many other incidents where victims are being supported by others.
We welcome the willingness of the Oireachtas Committee to examine this issue and are asking members to ensure that its consideration of the issues involved is conducted in a timely manner in order to offer hope to victims.”
Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomes announcement of Dáil Hearings
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
The announcement that the Dáil Justice Committee is to invite submissions on the issue of racism with a view to holding public hearings is an opportunity for Ireland to end complacency on the issue, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Council is welcoming the announcement that the Committee is undertaking a study of Integration, Multiculturalism and Combatting Racism and is inviting written submissions by September 13th 2013.
Denise Charlton Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council added:
“This study is an opportunity for Ireland to take an honest look at the issues surrounding integration and ensure that as a society we have a co-ordinated robust response to racism.
Since mounting an awareness campaign in March of this year the Immigrant Council of Ireland as a frontline organisation has been responding to an average of 5 racist incidents a week, in 2012 that average was one a week.
We will be engaging fully with the committee and will be making a written submission, in addition we look forward to the public hearings as an opportunity to highlight the barriers which prevent people from coming forward to report incidents of racism.
Our research has shown that people are reluctant to come forward because of fears they will be perceived as troublemakers, possible implications for their immigration status in Ireland as well as fears that their complaint will not be taken seriously.
These are issues which must be addressed.
Again we would appeal to anyone who has experienced or seen racism to report it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Justice Committee has given an opportunity for all sections of Irish society to take a unified stance against racism and we would encourage everyone to fully engage with this process.”
Only 13% of foreign born immigrants become Irish citizens
Bureaucracy, discretion and vagueness identified as barriers to citizenship
Statement by the Immigrant Council of Ireland
Immigrants in Ireland are far less likely to become citizens than those in other European countries according to research across 15 EU member states which has been released today (Mon 29th July 2013) by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
The Irish findings revealed that 13% of immigrants here have become citizens compared to an average of 34% in all countries researched. Only Luxembourg has a lower rate than Ireland.
Announcing the results the Immigrant Council said several barriers to citizenship have been identified.
Senior Solicitor with the Council, Hilkka Becker, said:
"This research which we undertook with the Migration Policy Group in Brussels shows that despite recent improvements the path to citizenship remains difficult and beyond reach for many people.
We found that despite a citizenship regime which is more inclusive in theory than those in other EU states, there are difficulties which have contributed significantly to the low rates of citizenship.
The absolute discretion of the Minister for Justice and Equality in deciding who is conferred with citizenship has created a lack of transparency and clarity with people forced to negotiate a system which lacks clear guidelines.
In addition, the concept of 'earned citizenship', whereby people are naturalised upon meeting certain conditions or waivers for people in certain categories does not exist in Ireland, unlike many other European countries.
Coupled with this vagueness our system is one of the most demanding in terms of supporting documentation, with applicants forced to produce identity cards, residence permits, income records as well as officially translated and certified birth certificates and passports.
Despite a commitment in 2011 to cut waiting time for applicants to 6-months, there is still no formal legal time limits and many going through the process continue to endure long waiting periods."
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
"This is a substantial body of research which has important lessons for Ireland. Our low rate of citizenship has implications in terms of integration and the economy.
Those who are succeed in being naturalised are more often employed, less often overqualified for their jobs, have better housing conditions and have less difficulty paying household expenses.
This report highlights that despite the positive media coverage and feel good factor of the citizenship ceremonies, which the Immigrant Council campaigned to have introduced, we still have work to do in this area."
Access to citizenship report
Immigrant Council of Ireland joins campaigners across Europe on Day For the Victims of Hate
On-line hate speech accounts for just over 10% of racism cases reported to the Immigrant Council of Ireland according to figures released to coincide with the European Day for the Victims of Hate (22nd July 2013).
The Council is joining campaigners across Europe to mark the 2nd anniversary of the massacre of 77 people in attacks in Oslo and Utoya Island by calling for firm action against hate speech.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said:
“The use of websites, social media and blogs to spread hate is a challenge which Ireland and Europe ignores at their peril. The events in Norway two-years ago today sent shockwaves across the continent, yet still the internet is being abused by those whose only message is of hate.
In past 12-months (July 2012-July 2013) online hate speech has accounted for 11 of 100 racism cases reported to the Immigrant Council of Ireland, underlining that this is not just a problem where the far right has re-emerged but is also an issue for us in this country.
Incidents include abuse through posts on social media, but we are also concerned about right wing websites many with Irish contributions which despite complaints from members of the public often remain online for weeks or months.
Offensive, racist and foul language is used, posted both on websites and in some cases on people’s personal social media pages. Cyber racism potentially has a significant impact on online users; individuals, even though they were not always targeted directly, reported that they felt “upset”, “distressed” and “horrified” by the language used on the internet.
Incidents of cyber racism were reported to the ICI for the following reasons: the individual was the direct target of a comment; social media sites did not react to appeals to take down the offensive post; it was unclear what could be done about it, especially when sites were in a different jurisdiction.
It is clear our current laws and rules are not working.
The Government which is currently considering the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications regarding social media needs to widen that exercise to include these sites.
Following the events of 2011 Norway has taken an active role in working to remove hate speech from the internet, Ireland needs to support that action and ensure that measures are also taken at a European level to combat this issue.
Anyone who is concerned about online content can contact us at email@example.com ”