Make racist incidents a separate offence, urges garda

A senior garda has said a review of the law may be required to make it easier to prosecute crimes involving racist abuse.

Sgt Trevor Laffan, based in Cork’s Anglesea St station, said some offences which involve elements of racism were easier to prosecute as public order offences, rather than as racist offences.

He was speaking after he helped to launch a report last week by immigrant support organisation Nasc on racism and discrimination in Cork. The report shows more than 80% of people surveyed who said they had experienced racist abuse had not reported to it to the gardaí because they believed no action would be taken.

In a handful of cases received by Nasc since summer 2011, some people complained of discrimination by gardaí, primarily in instances where individuals were stopped in the street and asked for identification.

His comments also come as the GAA announced an investigation into allegations that a Crossmaglen Rangers player was subjected to racist abuse at yesterday's Ulster Club final.

Sgt Laffan said that in his experience there was no racist or discriminatory element to these requests by gardaí, but accepted there was under-reporting of racism in Cork.

“I have no reason to believe that Cork city is different to any other city in Europe,” he said regarding racist incidents and the reporting of them. “It is probably at the lower end of the scale.”

He said he was surprised that more people did not feel secure in coming forward with complaints, stating in some cases they may have negative associations with policing in their native country and also a fear of the legal process.

He said the possibility of making it easier to prosecute allegations of racist abuse may help foster confidence in the justice system.

“A separate offence for a racist incident would simplify things. It is worth looking at,” he said.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

More in this Section

€5.5m to tackle knotweed on roads; Multi-phase project ‘will take years’ to eradicate invasive plant

GP service relaunches with new name despite owing money to staff and patients

Three rescued from sinking fishing trawler in Cork

More Irish than the Irish themselves: Pubs up for top award


Breaking Stories

Watchdog finds overdose victim stockpiled drugs in prison

GRA President admits Gardaí are 'angry and frustrated' ahead of ballot on industrial action

Siptu: 'Way too early' to know if Dublin Bus talks will succeed

Dáil to debate Sinn Féin motion to scrap water charges, but Fianna Fáil unlikely to back it

Lifestyle

How to break up with dignity

Knights in shining armour: Irish full-contact medieval combat team set to showcase skills

Angelina Jolie hiring the best divorce lawyer in the business - Laura Alison Wasser

More From The Irish Examiner