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.
Organisations such as the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission are made unviable by state cuts. But the state is not alone here. NGOs supporting migrants and funded by philanthropy – such as the Immigrant Council of Ireland, the Migrants Rights Centre, the Irish Refugee Council, the Refugee Legal Service – are being threatened by the funders with amalgamation and streamlining. The end result might be a total dismantling of the equality sector. This in itself is not the main problem. The main problem is twofold: on the one hand, these cuts are bound to damage the most vulnerable – asylum seekers in holding camps, undocumented labour migrants, lone migrant women, Travellers. On the other hand, the dismembering of the equality structure will damage everyone if and when we are discriminated against because of our gender, age, class, or ethnic origin. Fighting to reverse these cuts and defend the equality sector is not only about the margins and the marginals, it is about us all.