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Shatter: Gardaí don't collect data on people based on race or because they're travellers

Though gardaí are often under pressure to make quick decisions, Shatter said any kind of discriminatory profiling is totally unacceptable.

Immigration officers remove and deport almost 60 Roma people at a camp in Ballymun, Dublin in 2007.
Immigration officers remove and deport almost 60 Roma people at a camp in Ballymun, Dublin in 2007.
Image: Julian Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has said An Garda Síochána are not collecting data on people based on their race, colour, religion or membership of the travelling community.

He said he would find it “totally unacceptable if any member of the Garda Síochána were to engage in any discriminatory profiling”. The minister made the comments in response to parliamentary questions from TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace who asked what action his department was going to take to prohibit this kind of activity within the force.

Shatter said he had been assured by the Garda Commissioner that the organisation “does not as an institution engage in discriminatory profiling”.

He added that the force does not “engage in data gathering or data mining based upon discriminatory profiling in respect of race, colour, language, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin, ethnicity or membership of the traveller community”.

We all understand that gardaí are often required to assess situations, draw conclusions and take action under pressure based on the available information. However, it is very important to ensure that no element of stereotyping or prejudice consciously or unconsciously informs their decisions, and that lessons are continuously learned in policing what is now a multi-cultural society.

In the case of immigration control, the minister said it is “perfectly possible” to operate an effective system without resorting to discriminatory ethnic profiling.

He also spoke of the two children who were taken temporarily from Roma families in October last year which sparked allegations of discrimination against this community within An Garda Síochána. Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan handed over her report on these incidents to the minister last month. Shatter said the report will be published in due course and that would provide an opportunity to discuss these issues again.

Read: Roma child cases: Emily Logan’s handed her report in to Alan Shatter>

Read: Roma child incidents result of ‘pure, raw, naked, poisonous racism’>

Read: Racial profiling has ‘a discriminatory effect’ and should be prohibited>

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