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Submission to the Commission for Taxi Regulation National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) March 2005
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1. Introduction The National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) was established in 1998 as an independent expert body focusing on racism and interculturalism. The NCCRI is a partnership body which brings together government and non-government organizations, and is core funded by theDepartment of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Further information is available from www.justice.ie. There have been high profile cases relating to the provision of taxi services to minority ethnic groups in other jurisdictions, however to date this issue has not received significant attention in the Irish context.1The NCCRI believes that the Commission for Taxi Regulation has provided a timely opportunity to exploreissues relating to private service provision in an intercultural Ireland, and welcomesthe opportunity to contribute to its deliberations. The provision of taxi services has the potential to play a positive part in the fight against racism in Ireland. Taxi drivers have significant interaction with members of the public, both in terms of minority ethnic groups, as well as the majority population. Taxi services also have a direct impact on perceptions of Ireland by tourists. The NCCRI is concerned that negative experiences in this sector have the potential to undermine the life experience of minority ethnic groups and are detrimental to the promotion an intercultural Ireland. In preparing this submission the NCCRI has drawn on consultations with partner organisations and its experience in working on issues of anti-racism in Ireland.2This paper represents a preliminary analysis of some of the key issues; it is not intended as a comprehensive analysis of all the challenges facing the operation of small public service vehicles (SPSVs) in an intercultural Ireland. This paper has been divided into four main parts. The first considers the recently launched National Action Plan against Racism and its significance for thedevelopment of intercultural service provision in the private sector. The second section provides a brief overview of the relevant provisions of the existing legislative framework for anti-discrimination. The third section raises a number of issues of concern, these include: racism directed at taxi drivers; access to services; racist incidents involving service providers; and the role of taxi drivers inpromoting interculturalism. The final part of the report will make a number of broad recommendations for consideration by the Commissioner for Taxi Regulation. 1Perhaps one of the most high profile cases has been that of the actor Danny Glover in New York. In Demark there has been significant public debate on this issue in the context of a number of discrimination cases, and a case which is currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights. 2In particular the NCCRI acknowledges the contribution of the Irish Traveller’s Movement, Pavee Point Traveller’s Centre, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland inthe development of this preliminary paper. 2
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2. National Action Plan against Racism (NPAR) We must ensure that our society does not indulge baseless prejudice but rather promotes the need to maintain communities where we canlive in harmony with our neighbours and take full advantage of the many opportunities that diversity brings.3On 27 January 2005 the Government launched ‘Planning for Diversity: The National Action Plan Against Racism’. Copies of the Plan are available from the Equal Status Unit in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, or from the web at: www.justice.ie. The NPAR originates from commitments given by Governments at the UnitedNations World Conference Against Racism in South Africa in 2001. The decision to develop the NPAR was further reaffirmed in the Social Partnership Agreementfor 2003-2005. The emphasis throughout the Plan is on developing reasonable and common sense measures to accommodate cultural diversity in Ireland. The overall aim of the NPAR is to provide strategic direction to combat racism and to develop amore inclusive, intercultural society in Ireland based on a commitment to inclusion by design, not as an add-on or after thought and based on policies that promoteinteraction, equality of opportunity, understanding and respect. The Plan was informed by a twelve-month public consultation process, overseen by a national steering group established under the aegis of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform which involved a wide range of key stakeholders from Government bodies, the social partners and broader civil society, including cultural and ethnic minorities. The Plan outlines an intercultural framework which will underpin the overall approach to its implementation. The Framework is summarised in Table 1. Table 1: Summary of the Intercultural Framework underpinning the NPAR Protection: Effective protection and redress against racismInclusion: Economic inclusion and equality of opportunity Provision: Accommodating diversity in service provision Recognition: Recognition and awareness of diversity Participation: Full participation in Irish society The Plan will be monitored though a High Level Strategic Monitoring Group and will be supported by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The Plan will be funded in three ways: • Refocusing of existing resources though the development of an intercultural dimension to mainstream public policy. 3Mr. Michael McDowell, TD, Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform at the launch of the National Action Plan against Racism, 27 January 2005,http://www.justice.ie/80256E01003A02CF/vWeb/pcJUSQ693DQE-en (28 January 2005)3
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• Identification of specific resources within the annual budget process for theimplementation of the Plan. • The commitment to realize aspects of the NPAR as resources becomeavailable. 2.1.Service Provision While the primary target of the NPAR is the government, the Plan does provide a context for enhancing the provision of services to minority ethnic groups in the private sector. Objective 3.4 of the Plan is to “Develop the ‘business case for diversity’ in the private sector”. The NPAR states that: There is a growing awareness among the private sector in Ireland of thebusiness case for accommodating cultural diversity both in terms of human resource policy and tailoring the provision of goods and services to reflect the increasingly diverse customer base that exists both within Ireland and in wider European markets.4The Plan also points out that recent surveys highlight the need for greater awareness in the private sector to the obligations required under the equality legislation. 3. Existing legal framework Ireland has a relatively new anti-discrimination legislative framework, which is primarily comprised of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, and the Equal Status Acts 2000 and 2004. In Ireland there are nine protected grounds under the equality legislation: gender, marital status, family, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race andmembership of the Traveller community. The race ground refers to discriminationon the basis of a particular race, skin colour, nationality or ethnic origin. The Traveller community ground refers to people who are commonly called Travellers, who are identified both by Travellers and others as people with a shared history, culture and traditions, identified historically as a nomadic way of life on the island of Ireland. The religion ground refers to discrimination on the basis of different religious belief, backgrounds, outlook or none. Discrimination has a specific meaning in the Acts. Discrimination is described as the treatment of a person in a less favourable way than another person is, has been or would be treated in a comparable situation on any of the nine grounds. There are different types of discrimination covered by the Acts including indirect discrimination, discrimination by imputation and discrimination by association.54Planning for Diversity – The National Action Plan Against Racism, p. 101 5Equality Authority (2004), Guide to the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, available at:http://www.equality.ie/stored-files/PDF/The%20Employment%20Equality%20Acts%201998%20and%202004.pdf4
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The equality legislation imposes vicarious liability. This means that employers are liable for discriminatory acts of an employee in the course of his or her employment, unless they can prove that they took reasonably practicable steps to prevent the conduct.63.1.The Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 20047Broadly the Employment Equality Acts: promote equality; prohibit discrimination (with some exemptions) across nine grounds; prohibit sexual harassment and harassment; prohibit victimization; require appropriate measures for people with disabilities in relation to access, participation and training in employment; allow positive action measures to ensure full equality in practice across the nine grounds. The Act covers both public and private sector employment. The aspects of employment which are covered include: advertising; equal pay; access to employment; vocational training and work experience; terms and conditions of employment; promotion or re-grading; classification of posts; dismissal; and collective agreements. 83.2.The Equal Status Acts 2000 and 20049The Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2004 are intended to: promote equality; prohibit certain kinds of discrimination (with some exemptions) across nine grounds; prohibit sexual harassment and harassment; prohibit victimisation; require reasonable accommodation of people with disabilities; allow a broad range of positive action measures.10The Acts apply to people who: buy and sell a wide variety of goods; use or provide a wide range of services; obtain or dispose of accommodation; attend at or are in charge of educational establishments.6Equality Authority (2004), Guide to the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, available at:http://www.equality.ie/stored-files/PDF/The%20Employment%20Equality%20Acts%201998%20and%202004.pdf7The Equality Act 2004 seeks to implement the provisions of Council Directive 2002/73/EC of 23September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EC on the implementation of the principle ofequal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training andpromotion and working conditions [2002] OJL2 69/15; Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation[2000] OJ L 202/10 Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle ofequal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin [2000] OJ L180/22). 8Equality Authority (2004), Guide to the Employment Equality Acts 2002 and 2004, available at:http://www.equality.ie/stored-files/PDF/The%20Employment%20Equality%20Acts%201998%20and%202004.pdf9In relation to the Equal Status Act 2000, the Equality Act 2004 seeks to implement the EU Race Directive. See footnote 6. 10Equality Authority (2004), Guide to the Equal Status Acts 2000 and 2004, available from:http://www.equality.ie/stored-files/PDF/The%20Equal%20Status%20Acts%202000%20and%202004.pdf5
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People cannot discriminate (subject to certain exemptions): when they are providing goods and services to the public (or a section of the public); whether these are freeor where the goods and services are sold, hired or rented or exchanged; access to and the use of services is covered. A service as defined under the Acts includes: • Banking, insurance, grants, loans, credit or financing; • Entertainment, recreation or refreshment; • Cultural activities; • Transport or travel; • A service or facility provided by a club (which is available to the public or a section of the public); • A professional trade or service.113.3.The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 The use of words, behaviour or the publication or distribution of material which is threatening, abusive or insulting and are intended, or are likely to, stir up hatred are prohibited under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989. The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, is currently being reviewed in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform with a view to improving its effectiveness. 4. Issues of concern in the provision of taxi services in an intercultural Ireland While there have not been a large number of racist incidents recorded in the provision of taxi services, incidents that have been recorded, and anecdotal evidence give rise to concerns across a number of key areas. These include: racist abuse directed at taxi drivers from minority ethnic groups; access by minority ethnic groups to taxi services; racist incidents involving taxi drivers; and promoting interculturalism. 4.1.Racist abuse directed at taxi drivers Preliminary consultations would suggest that there is not a significant number of individuals from minority ethnic groups working as taxi drivers in Ireland, however there are some tentative indications that those who are do have problems, both in terms of abuse from their clients, but also from colleagues. For example in itsreport covering the period from May to October 2004 the NCCRI noted media reports “that a ‘Lotto winner’ allegedly spat at an African taxi driver and called him‘a black bastard’”.1211Equality Authority (2004), Guide to the Equal Status Acts 2000 and 2004, 12In May 2001 the NCCRI established a system for recording incidents related to racism in Ireland. Incidents are analysed and compiled into six monthly reports. There have been seven reports to date. The incidents included in this report have been forwarded by non- governmental organisations onbehalf of the victims, including key organisations working with Travellers, refugees and asylumseekers and migrants; other incidents have been reported directly to the NCCRI by the victims. The data that is generated by this reporting system is primarily qualitative and indicative of key issues that need to be addressed. The reports also notes incidents which are reported in the media. 6
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One suggestion made to the NCCRI is that there may be a perception amongstmajority population taxi drivers that drivers from diverse backgrounds may not be sufficiently familiar with the Irish context to effectively do their jobs. Drawing on experience from other sectors it may be feasible that real or perceived competition in the sector gives rise to prejudice against the more vulnerable groups in society. However explanations of discrimination and racism are never simple and this is anarea which may require further analysis. 4.2.Problems relating to minority ethnic groups accessing taxi services Problems have been documented concerning access to taxi services by minorityethnic groups. In particular difficulties are experienced by visible minorities andgroups who can be identified by means of their location (housing). For example in its racist incident monitoring report covering the period from May to October 2002 the NCCRI recorded an incident where a “South African national reported that a taxi driver had refused her access to his cab without giving a reasonand proceeded to allow the next person access to the cab”. In addition many members of the Traveller community have experience of being refused taxis. In some cases members of the majority community have been offered a taxi ahead of Travellers at taxi ranks. Traveller organisations have also noted difficulties in accessing taxi services where an individual lives on a site or grouphousing scheme. For example since the recent difficulties at Dunsink Lane, taxidrivers have expressed an unwillingness to collect from that area due to safety concerns. The NCCRI acknowledges that drivers may have legitimate safety concerns however these should not be used to conceal underlying discrimination or prejudice against minority ethnic groups; a balance must be struck between the rights and responsibilities involved. 4.3.Racist incidents involving taxi drivers Organisations which work with minority ethnic groups have come across cases where members of minority ethnic groups have experienced racist comments from taxi drivers, however preliminary investigations would indicate that this practice isnot common. For example the Irish Traveller Movement (ITM) has reported to the NCCRI that there have been cases where comments from taxi drivers have lead todifficulties. There is a danger that where racist incidents, by taxi drivers, occur that these will gounchallenged; either through fear that the individual will be asked to leave the taxi,or as a consequence of the temporary nature of the contact between the client and the driver. There is some anecdotal evidence which suggests that taxi drivers play a role in reinforcing myths and misinformation about minority ethnic groups in Ireland.That is not to suggest that these views are disproportionately represented amongsttaxi drivers in relation to the general population, however it does highlight the importance of awareness raising work with taxi drivers given their level of7
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engagement with the general public. A vociferous minority of taxi drivers appear to be creating environments which are uncomfortable for both minority ethnic groups and members of the majority community who do not share their views. 4.4.Promoting interculturalism Like all members of society taxi drivers have a role to play in promoting an intercultural Ireland. The NCCRI is aware that many drivers play a very positive role in the fight against racism in Ireland. For example in its report covering the period from May to October 2002, the NCCRI noted that: “In the case of a womanof Asian ethnic origin who was attacked by a group of youths in Dublin city centre, a taxi driver and a group of bystanders came to her assistance and the taxi driver drove her home.” In its consideration of the regulatory framework for SPSVs and their drivers, a consumer orientated approach should recognise the importance of developing an intercultural approach to service provision in the private sector. 5. Recommendations As a group representative of society, taxi drivers have both a negative and positive role to play in anti-racism and promoting interculturalism in Ireland. In terms of the development of a regulatory framework for the control and operation of SPSVs andtheir drivers, to ensure quality consumer oriented service, the NCCRI wouldrecommend that the Commission for Taxi Regulation give consideration to the following: 1. Promote research in order to quantitatively ascertain the significance of racism and discrimination in the control and operation of SPSVs. 2. Promote anti-racism awareness training amongst taxi service providers in order to enhance their understanding of their role and responsibilities under the equality legislation; and to promote awareness and understanding of myths and misinformation concerning minority ethnic groups in Ireland. Such training could be included in the procedure for providing licenses to taxi drivers.3. Coordinate the drafting of a code of practice with taxi drivers and theirrepresentative bodies. A summary version of this could be displayed in taxis with contact information should the passenger wish to make a complaint. 4. Any complaints and quality assurance procedure should include a specific reference to anti-racism and the need to promote interculturalism. For further information contact: Philip Watt, Director or Anna Visser,Research and Policy Officer, NCCRI, Tel: 01 8588004, email: anna@nccri.ie. 8


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