|Dublin transport stands united against racism, 'Dublin's Transport Links. Racism Divides''||21 Mar 2013|
|Denise Charlton of ICI writes in Irish Times on St Patrick’s Day and Migrant Rights||14 Mar 2013|
|Sex-buyers law proposed in the Dail, Important to advance national debate in prostitution, Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland||13 Mar 2013|
|ICI's International Women's Day Breakfast, Speech by Denise Charlton||08 Mar 2013|
Dublin Transport takes united stand against racism ‘Dublin’s Transport Links. Racism Divides’
Dublin’s main transport providers are using the ‘European Week Against Racism’ to take a united stand and drive home the message that there is no acceptable level of racism across any of their services.
A high profile publicity campaign across busses, trams, trains and taxis is being supported with staff training, improved monitoring and reporting of incidents.
The campaign is being supported by the National Transport Authority, Dublin Bus, Dublin City Council, Iarnród Éireann, Immigrant Council of Ireland and Veolia Transport.
Welcoming the initiative, Minister of State for Commuter Transport Alan Kelly said: “There’s no room for racism on board public transport. The message “Dublin’s Transport Links - Racism Divides” will be carried in advertising on buses, trams and trains. The transport companies are also bringing in internal measures which will benefit both the travelling public and staff.
“This united stand by the public transport companies sends out a strong message that racism is unacceptable, in any form, on the public transport network. I want to congratulate all the parties involved for raising awareness of this issue and protecting the safety of customers and staff.”
Gerry Murphy, Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority said: “Neither transport users nor transport employees should ever be subject to racist comment or attack. We have taken this initiative, with the Immigrant Council of Ireland, to ensure that all transport staff are trained, and that high profile messaging is immediately visible across Dublin’s transport modes – buses, trains and trams – stating clearly that we will not tolerate any racism”.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland said: “While we are currently responding to one serious racist incident a week, it is clear a lot more goes unreported. Complacency is one of the greatest barriers we must overcome in terms of racism and this united front will assure people that this is a problem which the operators are determined to confront.
“Research we have undertaken shows victims and witnesses have been reluctant to come forward fearing their complaint will not be taken serious or will not be acted upon. This campaign as well as the training and monitoring measures which the companies are implementing will help overcome these obstacles.”
Denise Charlton of ICI writes in Irish Times on St Patrick’s Day and Migrant Rights
This year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington DC will take place amid fresh hopes of genuine immigration reform which will benefit tens of thousands of Irish people living below the radar in the United States.
As they descend on the White House, Capitol Hill and Irish centres right across the US, our own political leaders will no doubt be keen to highlight their efforts to secure change.
Successive Governments have beaten a trail to Irish-American politicians to try and bring about reform, and if it is delivered they will bring real benefits for men, women and children cut off from their loved ones back here in Ireland and often living in fear of a knock on the door.
It will be a time for the Taoiseach and other senior politicians to bask in the appreciation of grateful Irish communities. The battle to reach this stage has been long and hard and involved intensive lobbying.
However the politicians should match their race to claim some of the success in the corridors of power in DC with enthusiasm about the need for reforming an immigration system here which has repeatedly been found to lack transparency, has no clear rules and no independent appeal mechanisms.
Through our work as an Independent Law Centre, the Immigrant Council of Ireland sees first hand the difficulties being caused to people who have decided to commit themselves to this country.
Too often they face a bureaucratic system which is based on discretion and has no clear rules.
Many people legally living in Ireland are cut off from their loved ones.
At the Immigrant Council we have been highlighting the lack of rules on family reunification which are clear, fair and just for all. Research we have undertaken as part of an EU Family Reunification Project has shown that we are close to the bottom of the league in relation to Irish citizens and migrants living here legally being able to enjoy family life in the country that is their home.
The right to family reunification is not recognised in our primary laws. As a result, migrants and Irish citizens are being split from their loved ones. In some of the more heartbreaking cases the ICI is attempting to support and help parents who are watching their children grow up on Skype.
In one case a Brazilian mother breastfeeding a nine-month old Irish citizen baby and facing deportation turned to us for assistance. In legal proceedings at the High Court we highlighted that sending the mother home would amount to ‘constructive expulsion’ of the baby which would have been a breach of Ireland’s obligations under Protocol 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Protocol prohibits the expulsion of a country’s own citizens. The ICI secured a settlement which ensured the woman was granted residency status.
These cases are not unique, and family reunification is an issue for many people in this country.
While it is true there have been some improvements in our immigration system, there is still a long way to go.
Shortfalls in the laws and regulations have been highlighted by the Courts and international organisations.
Earlier this month we supported a migrant victim of domestic violence to win residency for herself, a young daughter and infant son. Our efforts were successful, however the family did face a five year legal battle and two High Court actions, in a situation which can hardly be described as fair.
One of the driving forces behind the reform in the United States is the recognised need for workers to fill a skills gap. This is a problem which has been highlighted here too by some of our major employers and earlier this year by a European report.
Despite the recession companies are struggling to fill foreign language and IT vacancies because of prohibitive work permit requirements. This was also highlighted by the Council of Europe in January in a compliance report on the European Social. It found our work permit fees were excessive and a barrier.
The report found that work permit fees were excessive while migrants were not being treated equally in terms of access to vocational training.
Reforms in this area not only bring us into line with other EU Member States but also makes economic sense. The Immigrant Council has been welcoming indications from Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD that he will be taking action in this area.
One of the most difficult aspects of the immigration system is the lack of independent appeals. Often people are given an answer with no explanation and have very little options to reapply.
The Office of the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, says it is wants to bring the immigration service under its remit, however this has not happened. We believe such a move would be a major improvement and give people an opportunity to correct any mistakes they may have made in an original application.
Emigration is part of our history in Ireland. It is the time of year when we focus on the roles of our people in developing the new worlds, not just in the US but also in Australia, Africa and other far flung places of the globe.
Less documented is the role migrants have played in developing Ireland, whether it is Viking Dublin, the Celts of middle Europe or St Patrick himself, much of our heritage is down to immigration.
It is clear that migrants will also help decide our future. They are committed to using their skills to help rebuild the economy, while many have taken the ultimate step of becoming Irish citizens.
We owe it to them to have a modern and efficient system which is fair to all.
Sex-buyers law proposed in Dáil Important to advance national debate on prostitution
Statement by Immigrant Council of Ireland
The introduction of a private member’s bill in the Dáil by Deputy Thomas Pringle which would outlaw payments for sex is welcome and should help swiftly move on the national debate on this issue, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council said:
“The introduction of the private member’s bill by Deputy Pringle presents an opportunity to quickly advance the national debate on the laws on prostitution which has now been going on for four-years.
The bill should help focus politicians on the need for urgent law reform. While the Immigrant Council and our 65 partners of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign have been engaging with the political process at every possible opportunity, the criminals have also continued their activity.
The pimps, traffickers and other criminals have brought organised crime to every county in Ireland. Just last month Senior Gardaí testified to the Dáil Justice Committee about the links between Irish and foreign crime gangs and prostitution.
Deputy Pringle’s Bill is an opportunity to now move forward and we encourage all politicians to examine the issues involved and side with representatives of doctors, nurses, the farming community, survivors of prostitution, human rights campaigners as well as 10 local councils which all say Turn Off the Red Light”.
ICI's International Women's Day Breakfast
Speech by Denise Charlton
I want to welcome you all to the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s celebration of International Women’s Day 2013.
It is one of the highlights of our calendar of events and a special occasion when each year we pause, discuss and reflect on an area of our work.
By joining us today you are offering solidarity to lawmakers, human rights campaigners as well as media commentators and more importantly to mothers, daughters and sisters who across the world put themselves in the spotlight in order to advance the rights of women.
Often these women put their lives in danger by putting themselves forward not just on a global or national stage but even in their own communities or within their families.
Too often we forget that in 2013 the rights of women are regularly trampled over on a daily basis.
Whether it is sexual exploitation and rape in India, the shooting of school girls in Afghanistan or 20 years of failure to legislate for the X-case here at home, there are many high profile incidents across the world which show that when it comes to women’s rights we still have a long way to go.
At the Immigrant Council of Ireland the challenges facing women covers a great deal of our work.
For over 12-years we have campaigned to ensure that survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and prostitution – often brought here under false pretences – are given every possible support and protection.
During that period we have achieved progress: for the first time women in violent relationships can apply for independent immigration status separate from their spouse ; human trafficking victims have increased protections and a Government review on the laws on prostitution has been achieved.
In addition through our work as an Independent Law Centre we have undertaken successful work in the courts which has impacted not just on individual families but also have had a knock on effect to benefit others.
Only this week, a 5-year battle for one Pakistani woman who was seeking the right to remain in Ireland with her daughter and infant son after leaving a violent marriage was successful.
The Immigrant Council supported that woman through bureaucracy and two High Court actions, while this week we celebrated a victory no system that puts a victim of violence through such a legal ordeal can be considered fit for purpose.
This weekend too we are using Mother’s Day to highlight the red tape which is tearing families apart. There is no right to family reunification in Irish primary law and this is preventing Irish citizens and migrants from living with the ones they love.
We welcome recent Government commitments to look at this area but need your support to ensure those promises are followed with action. You will see on your tables and in your packs, forms to sign a petition calling for action and I would ask you to take this opportunity to add your voice to reunite families and loved ones. We'll collect these forms from you on that way out.
All of these issues highlight once again that Ireland is sadly lacking a modern immigration system which is open, fair and just. Too often clear rules and guidelines are replaced with discretion which gives us a system which is perceived as being unfair to individuals, their families and does not serve our country well.
On International Women’s Day the Immigrant Council is keen to highlight that major shortfall and again call on our politicians to take action to correct this.
Each year the ICI uses this event to highlight one aspect of its work. Often we draw attention to areas which would not normally be the centre of public or media discourse.
This year we focus on the challenges faced by Muslim women in Ireland.
There are now an estimated 49,000 Muslims in Ireland , the majority of whom are from a migrant background . These communities are strong and vibrant , reaching every part of our country.
Many individuals and families have to grapple with a legal and political system that has not kept pace with the changes which have taken place in our country.
We know too from our frontline services that Muslim women are more likely to face incidents of racism than men. This racism can vary from the actions of thugs on the street, in public transport or even against the home to the racist attitudes of employers and ‘official’ Ireland.
We hear stories of women having the hijab pulled from them, having beer thrown at them or being told they will not be employed because of the way they dress.
In the coming weeks the Immigrant Council will partner the staging of Hijabi Monologues Ireland at the Axis Theatre in Ballymun.
Women have been invited to submit personal and true stories for the production, which is being co-hosted by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the British Council and Axis Theatre, Ballymun and will focus on the lives of Muslim women in Ireland.
The aim of this production is to reflect that reality and to breakdown misconceptions which people may have about the Muslim community.
Through the 'Hijabi Monologues' we want to shift the focus away from the headscarf and instead focus on the women who make up the diverse Irish Muslim community. We will reflect their wide-ranging views on faith, education, class, Irish life and many other areas.
It is these experiences which will define 'Hijabi Monologues' in Ireland and hopefully provide a platform for Ireland to explore issues which have caused division and conflict in other parts of Europe.
The 'Hijabi Monologues' is an excellent mechanism for opening people's eyes, ears and minds. It helps us to see beyond the stereotypes and clichés and to value people for who they are, not what they look like.
This morning we are able to bring you a taste of what is to come, with Maeve Fitzgerald joining us to perform one of the Monologues which will also feature in Hijabi Monologues Ireland: 'I'm Tired'
Later we have a panel discussion, which I would encourage you all to join in. We are delighted to be joined by Mary Fitzgerald, Foreign Afairs Correspondent with the Irish Times.
Mary through her extensive work in the Middle East and across the globe has brought us the stories which are shaping the times we live in. From the revolution, liberation and conflict that has been the Arab Spring Mary has shared with us stories of hope, human determination and the commitment people have to bring about real change even when faced with dictatorship, repression and regimes who control through violence.
I look forward to a very informative morning which I know will help shape our work into the future.