A new European website called Red-network.eu is aiming to be a central location for people to report incidents relating to racism, xenophobia and discrimination, as well as being an information portal relating to racist incidents across the EU.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) is a member of the network, and will be providing information and updates to the new site in the Irish context.
Already the resignation of the Mayor of Naas after refusing to deal with black African constituents and the display of a Nazi flag in the garden of a family home in Co Carlow are amongst the incidents relating to racism, xenophobia and discrimination in Ireland that have been recorded on Red-network.eu.
And just today we learned that a student who used Twitter to mock Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Mumba after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a match has been jailed for 56 days, for inciting racial hatred.
The RED Network itself behind the website is an independent research network composed of research and civil society organisations in 17 EU member states. In addition to Ireland, organisations from Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovenia and Sweden are involved in the RED Network, which is led led by the Institute for Rights, Equality and Diversity in Greece.
Fidèle Mutwarasibo, integration manager with the ICI, said the site would serve as a comprehensive information portal, allowing users to easily access statistics, reports and comparative data about racist incidents across the EU.
"Anyone can log onto this site and assess how migrants and minority communities are treated in various EU states," said Mutwarasibo.
He said that as well as providing statistics and reports on incidents of racism, the site also contains information on initiatives and policy measures being adopted by governments in order to promote equality.
"In the Irish section, for example, there are reports on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the Traveller Pride Awards, as well as articles about individual incidents of racism," said Mutwarasibo.
The site also has thesaurus section – where words and phrases associated with racism are explained in plain English.
The RED Atlas then gives a country-by-country breakdown of the situation in EU member states, including information on racist and xenophobic discourse amongst political parties in each member state.
It will also have information on:
- Racism and discrimination legislation and policy implementation.
- Anti-racist policies and organisations.
- Racist hate crimes.
- Policing, law enforcement and justice.
- The demographics and economic situation of migrant and minority communities.
- Migrant/minority participation in public, cultural and sporting life.
- Media representation of migrant and minority communities.
Mutwarasibo said that against the backdrop of Europe’s social, political and economic crises in recent years, racist attitudes and hate crimes could constitute a major threat to social cohesion and equality.
"There is a risk that intolerance against migrants and minorities could become widespread and commonly accepted," he said.
"In order to combat racism, we must be able to identify and challenge it, and that’s what this new website is about. By documenting incidents of racism – and reporting on effective anti-racism initiatives – we hope to inform and influence the work of national governments, and ensure countries throughout the EU become more tolerant and inclusive."
He said Ireland still has a long way to go before it can boast of being a fully equal society, but participating in initiatives like the RED Network means the country can share best practice and learn from the experiences of other EU states.