'This is happening in our own country': Dublin councillor Hazel Chu hits out at racist abuse and Nazi salutes

'This is happening in our own country': Dublin councillor Hazel Chu hits out at racist abuse and Nazi salutes

A Dublin councillor has spoken about the racist abuse she has been receiving on social media since last week.

Hazel Chu, who was born in Dublin, said she has received hundreds of hate messages and anonymous phone calls after online trolls posted abusive tweets about her nationality.

Ms Chu became the first Irish-Chinese politician to be elected in the Irish state as she won a seat on Dublin City Council in the Pembroke Ward. Her parents moved from China to Ireland in the 1970s and met while working in a restaurant off Dublin's O'Connell Street.

Last week the Green Party councillor was sent a video on Twitter in which she was referred to as 'that migrant' and accused of trying to censor people.

"I'm not 'that migrant'. [I was] born in the Rotunda and grew up in Ireland," she told RTÉ Radio 1. "Somehow everyone felt like they had a right to discuss whether I was Irish or not.

"I thought if we are going to have conversations and discussions then we need to bring facts to the table and it was factually incorrect.

"This conversation isn't about censorship. When you talk about people, when you have discussions and debates, they need to be factual, they need to be true. We need to stop spreading lies and misinformation."

The incident caused her name to begin to trend on Twitter and an online petition was started, calling for her resignation.

"I found the whole thing baffling because suddenly I was racist, suddenly I was told I don't belong here even though I was born and grew up here and that there would be all sorts of repercussions and that there was displacement of Irish identity thanks to me, that a 'recalibration' was coming."

Ms Chu said people criticising immigration are looking for someone to blame for unconnected problems in the country.

"I think that we have a huge problem in the country, that we have over 10,000 homeless, that we have, still, an economy that is against the working class, we have issues when it comes to healthcare and people want something to blame.

Somehow it's easier to blame immigration, it's easier to blame people within the LGBTQ community, it's easier to blame people who are different.

"If you're going to use words like 'mass immigration' then tell me how to CSO figures are incorrect. Tell me how suddenly in 2018 we had 90,000 immigrants and out of that, 31%, which is just under 30,000, were Irish people returning. How is that 'mass'? That is less than 1% [of the population]."

She also received threatening phone calls, including heavy breathing and being called horrific names, which she subsequently reported to the gardaí.

"The first phone call I was at home with my little one and picked it up because my constituents call me on private numbers all the time so I picked up and there was just heavy breathing on the call and I thought 'ah, it's one of those'. I thought that's fine but by the sixth phonecall I realised this is actually not cool."

A rally was held outside Google in Dublin on Saturday at which Ms Chu was speaking regarding stronger action to be taken against racism.

"This is happening in our own country and no matter how much we try to ignore it, it is there. No matter how much we bury our head in the sand, it is happening."

She said she witnessed Nazi salutes at the rally and she was appalled to see this.

"We all have liberty and freedom to act but we have to make sure that it doesn't cause harm on others. What I saw on Saturday, there were at one point Nazi salutes which I found shocking. I saw two or three photos of different people doing it. How is this okay?"

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