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Support growing for mandatory equality training proposal

AN Ennis councillor’s proposal that the Government provide for all local representatives to have mandatory equality and anti-discrimination training has received growing support from a number of organisations.
A recent meeting of Ennis Town Council voted against the proposal by Councillor Paul O’Shea. However, as well as receiving support from the Clare Intercultural Network, the proposal has also now been backed by Labour and Travellers’ representatives, Pavee Point.
Labour’s Intercultural Group have pledged their support for Councillor O’Shea’s proposal that all public representatives should receive three hours of equality training.
“Labour Intercultural Group supports the motion put to Ennis Town Council by Councillor O’Shea to introduce training in equality, anti-discrimination and racism for all public representatives. It is regrettable the council voted down the proposal. It is also regrettable that some councillors voted the proposal down on the grounds that ‘they don’t need training’,” commented Karen McCormack and JM Singh, co-chairs of the Labour Intercultural Group.
“Most public representatives have a wide range of skills and are well equipped to deal with the issues that are raised with them daily. No doubt, many are also familiar with the equality legislation and best practice in all areas of equality. However, there is bound to be a need for up-to-date information, knowledge on best international practice and an understanding of how discrimination works. We urge councillors to resubmit this motion across the country at their local councils. Good quality training could be offered at one of the councillors’ quarterly meetings to maximise on the delivery of the training.”
They went on, “The fresh research, which shows that the majority of public representatives believe they would lose votes if they raise migrant-related issues shows that we have underlying issues with immigration, integration, discrimination and racism. It is likely too many myths and misinformation are affecting this issue negatively. The least we can do is ensure the public representatives have the necessary information and knowledge to deal with immigration and integration related issues.”
Also Pavee Point Travellers’ Centre has supported the proposal. Speaking at an event in Dublin, Pavee Point co-director, Martin Collins warmly welcomed Councillor O’Shea’s proposal and offered to support the development and delivery of such training.
“In a constantly changing country, we all need the best and latest information to ensure we’re up to speed on the issues facing our clients and constituents. Whilst public representatives have a broad range of skills to support their work in the communities they represent, those communities are today more diverse than ever and issues of equality, racism and discrimination occur all over the country much more than before.”
He added, “Training of the sort envisaged by Councillor O’Shea would promote community cohesion and address some of the challenges and opportunities presented by a more diverse country.
“We know the majority of Ireland’s public representatives, at local authority and national representative level, care about each of their constituents equally – Pavee Point wants to support the creation of training to help them represent and support all their constituents, help them be the best representatives they can be and ensure they can draw electoral support from the broadest base possible. Pavee Point would like to support the roll-out of such training – it would ensure that services provided by local authorities are more responsive and inclusive of the needs of minority ethnic groups such as Travellers,” Mr Collins said.

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