By Cormac O'Keefe
Jane* has not slept for more than two weeks, has barely eaten, and still shakes from the trauma. She will not stay any longer in what her children call the “scary movie house” in west Dublin.
Last Thursday, she took a four-hour bus journey to Donegal to bring her children to safety, while she now seeks refuge in a friend’s attic in Dublin.
When two men came to her house in Clondalkin in the middle of the night, a week ago, and sprayed “Blacks Out” across her front window, she was left with no choice.
Cllr Gino Kenny: “distorted individuals” behind the attacks do not speak for the community.
“I thought it was horrible,” Jane, a single mother, told the Irish Examiner. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I called the guards and they came and they stayed here for about two hours. I was so scared, so, so scared.”
The graffiti attack came on the back of two incidents of having her car tyres slashed, both in the space of a fortnight.
Last Friday, two days after the graffiti attack, her tyres were slashed for a third time.
Jane has gone to the council and the homelessness service, but said she was turned away by both. They say that, as she is in private rented accommodation, although on rent allowance, they cannot help her.
“After that, I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t know where I was going to bring the children,” Jane says.
“I was driving around and around for ages. I was in a state. The boy was crying, I was crying. My girl said, ‘mommy, I am not going to that street’.
“They said they were not going to ‘the horrible house’, ‘the scary movie house’. I didn’t know what to do. We had nowhere to go.”
She reached out to a friend, staying there on Wednesday night. The next day, she brought her children to a friend in Donegal while she returned on Friday.
“It is very hard to be separated from my children, but I have no idea what is going to happen,” she says.
Her son, aged 12, and her daughter, 8, were born in Ireland and are Irish citizens. Now they feel alien.
“They do not feel part of Irish society anymore,” she says.
Jane is exhausted from it all: “Since two weeks I am not sleeping, I don’t feel hungry, I am shaking when I think of it.”
She pointed out, however, that she has many good neighbours.
Local People Before Profit councillor Gino Kenny said the “distorted individuals” behind the attacks did not speak for the community. Both the gardaí in Clondalkin and South Dublin County Council said they are investigating Jane’s case.
However, her story is just one of a rising number of racist attacks across the country, says Shane O’Curry, director of the European Network Against Racism Ireland.
He said statistics showed there were 137 racist hate crimes in 2014. He said they are not captured fully in Garda statistics which, he said, recorded 43 comparative racist crimes last year.
Some of the cases include:
• A young black African male who was assaulted by six people while walking through Dublin city centre in the early evening;
• A six-month pregnant woman kicked in the stomach by her neighbour;
• A man and his daughter whose home in Cork was subjected to an arson attack;
• A 10-year-old Muslim girl hit by a group of young people in a playground.
The highest number of reports come from south and north Dublin, followed by Cork.
Mr O’Curry said his group’s experience from hosting workshops shows that between 60% and 70% of victims do not report incidents to gardaí. He said the lack of laws to tackle racism is part of the problem: “In Europe, Ireland stands alone in failing to provide statutory protections for victims of hate crime.”
*Jane is not the woman's real name