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NWC welcomes establishment of Special Rapporteur on Racism, calls for end to Direct Provision

Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The organisation said there was a welcome focus on ending systemic racism in the government’s new National Action Plan on Racism, but said this must include Direct Provision


The National Women’s Council (NWC) has welcomed the publication of the long-overdue National Action Plan Against Racism including the establishment of a new Special Rapporteur on racism.  The organisation also noted an important emphasis on systemic racism in the new plan, but said it will be crucial to watch the implementation of the plan in relation to women. NWC Director Orla O’Connor said

“It’s very welcome that the National Action Plan acknowledges the particular difficulties faced by women who experience racism. It will be key that minoritised women and women who come to Ireland seeking protection feel the impact of this plan. The government must act decisively to stamp out racism, including systemic racism which the Direct Provision system perpetuates, and make Ireland a welcoming home for all of us.”

The intersection of racism with sexism has had devastating consequences for women refugees, women migrants, and Irish women from minority backgrounds. The immigration and asylum systems present particular barriers to women who are subjected to domestic, sexual or gender-based violence, with migrant women, undocumented women, and women living in direct provision at increased risk of violence. For example, immigration status and the threat of deportation can be used as a tool to isolate women. NWC looks forward to seeing how the implementation of this plan will have impact in the lives of such women facing intersectional and systemic racism.

The implementation of the White paper on ending direct provision commits the government to replacing the system by December 2024. The system of direct provision in Ireland since its introduction has been well documented as having negative human rights implications for women who are placed there and has been widely condemned for the damage that it does. It is welcome to see the continued commitment to ending Direct Provision in this plan, but we must now see real steps towards that goal.

Commitments on encouraging more minoritised women into politics and on providing better protection for minoritised women from homelessness are very welcome. NWC looks forward to seeing these commitments matched by implementation, as well as to the collection of disaggregated data which is so sorely needed for this kind of policy work.

The ongoing and persistent marginalisation, exclusion and racism experienced by Traveller and Roma women has been highlighted as a particular concern for NWC members. The shocking health inequalities, high levels of unemployment, and appalling accommodation conditions they experience highlight the persistent injustices faced by minority ethnic groups in Ireland. Again, NWC looks forward to seeing the impact of the plan in the lives of these women.

To gain and maintain trust the NAPAR must be followed by implementation, accountability, and ongoing engagement with civil society, prioritisting the voices and experiences of minority ethnic communities and Travellers.


For comment: Catherine Lane and Orla O’Connor

Find here NWC’s submission to the public consultation: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/NWC_National_Action_Plan_Against_Racism_Submission_July_2021.pdf


For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator on sineadn@nwci.ie



About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie