In the aftermath of the resignation of Niall Crowley, Chief Executive of the Equality Authority, the Minister for Justice made ‘no apologies’ for cutting the Equality Authority’s budget, privileging instead police spending. This is in line with seeing equality work as defending Irish society’s problematic marginal populations, rather than maintaining equality for all, which was what the EA was about.
Denying racism and declaring itself post- and anti-racist, Ireland, like other EU member states, in restricting immigration, limiting it to those migrants who are useful to ‘our way of life’, and castigating Travellers and poor people for not playing their part, particularly now that the economic boom is over.
I saw a marvellous exhibition at the Patriothall Gallery in Edinburgh created by the Scottish artist Jane Frere, titled ‘Return of the soul: The Nakbah project’.
Frere, who was inspired by visits in the Nazi concentration camps, deciedd to create a project on the plight of the Palestinians, dispossessed by the Zionists during and after the 1948 war, which Israelis calls their ‘war of independence’ and Palestinians their Nakba, or catastrophe.
It is clear that the Irish government is panicking about finances. In the run to save money, the area of equality and anti-racism would be hit hardest. Many of the cuts make sense only if they are viewed as an attempt to save money while also axing independent organisations. Thus we saw the axing of Integrate Ireland Language and Training, spearheaded by the TCD Centre for Language and Communication Studies, teaching English to refugees since 1996. Even though the IILT itself was planning to mainstream its activities, the Department of Education closed it down without consultation. Thus we also hear that the NCCRI may be incorporated into the office of the Minister for Integration and, while I have been a critic of the NCCRI which, I believe, has passed its sell-by date, closing it down points to not taking the equality sector seriously.