For a hundred and fifty years, the Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles have been committed to Africa and peoples of African descent. Up to the present time this has meant going out on mission to Africa, to live the gospel values, and to work for justice and peace. Increasingly, this means continuing our commitment to outreach to peoples of African descent here in Ireland. As Ireland has become more multicultural in recent decades, and as the African community in Ireland grows, the OLA Sisters are committed to challenging injustices, especially racial discrimination wherever it arises here in Ireland. We do this is through awareness raising and advocacy: by drawing attention both to concerns and recommendations to address those concerns. One of the ways we have done this most recently has been through a collaborative effort on social media: our Religious Against Racism campaign.

The goal of the Religious Against Racism campaign has been to raise awareness about the issue of racism in Ireland in general, and in particular to draw attention to the 2020 Report on Ireland by the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The UN Committee is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to which Ireland is a signatory. The committee undertook a review of Ireland toward the end of 2019 and published their report at the beginning of 2020. The report outlines a series of concerns and recommendations.  We are reminded by Pope Francis in his encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, that the United Nations provides the best global framework for peace-building, promotion of justice and realization of human rights. Inspired by Pope Francis, we believe it is important for faith communities to promote and make use of the UN Treaty Bodies and human rights mechanisms to strengthen civil society.

Our campaign was a collaborative effort; eight congregations and the Association of Leaders of Religious and Missionaries in Ireland (AMRI) justice and ecology office, joined the OLA Sisters in this campaign, including: Columbans, the Daughters of Charity, the DominicansSaint Patrick’s Missionary Society, Kiltegan, the Society of African Missions (SMA), the Presentation Sisters, the Presentation Brothers, and the Redemptorists.

We opted to use social media to communicate our message, and we chose to do so during the month of March in order to coincide with the International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March. Our idea was quite simple: to make a series of brief videos outlining the concerns and corresponding recommendations contained in the UN report. The campaign was framed in a faith context with quotations from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, especially his comments on racism and our duty to love our neighbour. In total we produced eleven videos. Each of the nine congregations and AMRI shared the eleven videos on their various social media platforms, most notably Facebook and Twitter. Hashtags and user-handles were also used to bring these videos to the attention of specific people such as Government Ministers and Opposition spokespersons etc.

While this is only a small effort in the grand scheme, raising awareness about the concerns and recommendations is an essential first step towards their implementation. Furthermore, we believe that it is for each of us to take small steps together to work towards just communities where people’s rights are protected and where we can all live together in peace and free from discrimination and intimidation.

We encourage you to read the FULL REPORT (Click  to access in several languages)

You will find the full playlist of 11 videos on our YouTube Channel: Religious Against Racism or watch below: