860,000 people experienced discrimination in Ireland – A CSO Report finds

Posted on Wednesday, 21 August 2019

According to the CSO, the highest rates of discrimination were reported by people who identify as LGBTQI+ (33.2%), followed by people from non-white ethnic backgrounds (33.1%), the unemployed (30.2%) and non-Irish (26.7%).  Critically, almost 1 in 8 people reported experiencing discrimination when accessing services, while almost 1 in 10 reported discrimination in the workplace and/or looking for work.

Workplace Discrimination

Despite being against the law, workplace discrimination was experienced predominantly by unemployed persons, people from non-white ethnic backgrounds, persons who identify as LGBTQI+, non-Irish and persons with a disability (Table 1). 

Table 1:  Prevalence of Workplace Discrimination

Source:  CSO, Equality and Discrimination Q1 2019

Discrimination was also more prevalent among females than males, however when considering the perceived focus of workplace discrimination by sex, females were more likely to experience discrimination on the grounds of pay, work conditions or bullying or harassment, while males were more likely to experience discrimination when it comes to promotion, job loss or redundancy (Chart 1).

Chart 1:  Perceived focus of workplace discrimination by sex, Q1 2019

Source:  CSO, Equality and Discrimination Q1 2019

With almost full employment (Ireland has an unemployment rate of just 4.5%), employees have theoretically greater choice in their employment and more freedom to move on if they are unhappy in their work.  However, those furthest from the labour market and from marginalised groups are least likely to recognise these choices and more likely to be impacted by discrimination.

Accessing Services

A similar pattern emerges for those who experienced discrimination in accessing services, that is basic services such as shops, pubs or restaurants, using the services of banks, insurance companies or financial institutions, education, looking for housing or accommodation, accessing health services, using transport services, accessing other public services at a local or national level and in contact with An Garda Síochána (Table 2).

Table 2:  Prevalence of Discrimination when Accessing Services

Source:  CSO, Equality and Discrimination Q1 2019

Almost 1 in 5 young people aged between 18 and 24 experienced some discrimination in accessing services.  This is particularly the case when accessing services in shops, pubs, restaurants and other retail outlets (7.2%), looking for housing or accommodation (5.6%) and contact with An Garda Siochana (3.9%).

Effect of Discrimination

The type of discrimination reported was linked to the effect it had on the person’s life, with almost one third of those who experienced discrimination in work, looking for work or accessing health services (29.2%, 31.2% and 31.3% respectively) stating it had a serious effect on their lives.

From a policy perspective, this data provides an insight into the specific groups who are most impacted by discrimination and the areas in which this discrimination is likely to arise.  We need targeted approaches and much greater enforcement of existing legislation and regulation to tackle these issues.

On a personal level, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) have some practical advice on their website to support people who are experiencing discrimination to make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts.