The union said officials were creating a hostile environment for people of colour.
The BECTU trade union conference has voted to lobby against racial profiling by the authorities at Northern Ireland’s borders.
The conference unanimously passed a motion which hits out at discrimination against people of colour when travelling to and from Northern Ireland.
The conference noted that:
• Cross border buses from Belfast to Dublin are being routinely boarded by officials in the Republic of Ireland and passengers subjected to a documents check, removed from the bus arbitrarily by the police and immigration forces and held despite there being a Common Travel Area, under the auspices of ‘Operation Gull’.
Black people and people of colour are now routinely carrying documentation on cross border journeys in fear where white people do not, as white people pass the ‘visual test’ of looking Irish, and where lack of any documentation is not an issue.
• Upon entering Northern Ireland airports, even on internal United Kingdom flights, police ‘stop and checks’ are concentrated on those who do not look Northern Irish i.e. black people or people of colour.
• Passengers using cross Irish channel ferry services are being routinely racially profiled with black people and people of colour being subjected to undue questioning and scrutiny.
There is one case of a black UK lawyer who was living in Northern Ireland, Jules Gnezekora being singled out for questioning in an all-white queue four times in one ferry journey between Belfast and Glasgow.
• Racial profiling within the CTA is a workers’ issue and a human rights issue. Conference therefore instructs the BECTU SEC to campaign and lobby both the UK Government and its Republic of Ireland counterpart on the issue of the use of ‘Operation Gull’, its continued misuse and the creation of a ‘hostile environment’ in Northern Ireland and around its borders both in the UK and in Republic of Ireland.
Belfast-based trade unionist Claire Mullaly, who moved the motion, told Left Foot Forward:
“I am very proud of my BECTU colleagues for supporting this motion – which calls out racial profiling and opposes the imposition of a ‘hostile environment’ in Northern Ireland.”
“The solidarity shown by branches across the UK sends a powerful message that trade unions will not turn a blind eye to racism.”
According to End Deportations Belfast, terrorism laws are being misused to target people crossing the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Joe Lo is a reporter for Left Foot Forward
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