News Release

New report finds evidence of racism and harassment in selected NI schools and workplaces

1st September 2000

Racism and racial harassment are features of Northern Ireland's employment culture and education system, according to new research into the lives of minority ethnic groups in the province.

The message emerges from a new University of Ulster research report into minority ethnic people's experiences of education, training and employment in Northern Ireland.

The report, based upon in-depth interviews with over 100 members of the Chinese, African, Indian and Traveller communities, was prepared by researchers Dr Paul Connolly and Dr Michaela Keenan.

Their report highlights issues such as:

  • racist harassment in schools and the workplace;

  • problems and inadequacies in the ways some schools have responded to racist incidents and the need for clear policies;

  • the way in which some members of the Chinese community feel they have no choice but to work in the catering industry because of language difficulties and also the prejudice of the majority population;

  • problems underpinning the extremely poor educational performance and employment opportunities of Travellers.

Researcher Paul Connolly said:

It is often argued that racism is simply not a problem in Northern Ireland. However, our report demonstrates that racial harassment is a reality for minority ethnic people in schools and the workplace.

Moreover, our report highlights a range of processes and practices that tend to inhibit some minority ethnic people's educational and employment opportunities.

It should be recognised that the Government has made progress over recent years in addressing the issue of racism. Our report highlights a number of important initiatives that particular departments and agencies have taken to increase opportunities for minority ethnic people in the region.

However, while much progress has been made, our report shows that there is a lot more that needs to be done. With recent legislative and policy developments now underway, I hope that a climate has now been created where issues of ‘race’ and racism are being addressed by policy-makers and practitioners and further progress will be made.

The Report, prepared by UU researchers Dr Paul Connolly and Dr Michaela Keenan, contains 24 recommendations for action on the part of the government and public organisations such as the Department of Further and Higher Education, Training and Employment, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, the Department of Education, Education and library Boards, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, the RUC, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, and the Housing Executive in order to begin to improve the life chances of minority ethnic people in the Province.

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