Race law 'should apply in Northern Ireland': There is still one part of the UK where racial discrimination is legal, writes John Buckley

PRESSURE is growing for laws against racial discrimination to be extended to Northern Ireland. None of the three Race Relations Acts introduced since 1965 applies there; unlike in Britain, anyone suffering discrimination can seek no redress from the courts.

The Government has argued that immigration there is on an insignificant scale and that Northern Ireland has no problem of racial discrimination. It estimates that there are 10,000 people from ethnic minorites in the province.

Sarah Lee (who will not give her real name for fear of repercussions) thinks otherwise.

As one of Northern Ireland's 6,000-strong Chinese community, she believes such laws are essential. Every night, as she works in the family take-away, the same drunks come out with the same insults. She and her family do not protest. When they have in the past, the place has been smashed up.

Ms Lee has had enough of the take-away business, which employs 90 per cent of the Northern Irish Chinese. She sees further education as the way out. But she has encountered landlords unwilling to rent rooms to non-whites and she fears that, whatever her qualifications, without laws against racial discrimination it may prove impossible to find a decent job.

Many of the older Chinese people in Northern Ireland do not complain about discrimination. Eleanor McKnight, of the Chinese Welfare Association, says it is part of a tradition of not challenging authority. 'Some just expect discrimination because they are foreigners here, but others don't have enough English to be able to complain, and they know that they have no redress when they do. Another problem is that the authorities here see religion as the main issue on the agenda.'

Because it dominates the agenda in Northern Ireland, religious discrimination has been outlawed since 1976, when the Fair Employment Act was introduced. Bob Cooper chairs the Fair Employment Commission, the body charged with enforcing the Act. He says the Government is reconsidering its stance on racial discrimination in Northern Ireland. Last march, the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, agreed to publish a consultative document on race relations legislation which could be out by the end of the year.

Martin O'Brien works with the Committee on the Administration of Justice, a body that campaigns for the Government to meet its international commitments on human rights. He says the present situation, where racial discrimination is outlawed only in Britain and religious discrimination only in Northern Ireland is 'illogical and immoral', and also illegal.

'Britain signed the United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, and other international treaties. For too long it has breached its obligations to provide effective remedies for racial discrimination.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing