50 racist incidents reported in just 10 weeks

The Immigrant Council of Ireland received reports of 50 racist incidents against immigrants, including seven of physical violence, in just 10 weeks, it has confirmed.

ICI said those contacting it between the start of April and mid-June also suffered, among other things, property damage (9), racist graffiti (4), and social exclusion (4).

Twenty-one callers reported being discriminated against because of their ethnic extraction. In a number of cases the person was exposed to more than one form of racist abuse.

The incidents occurred in the person’s work (9) or educational setting (3) and even in their home or community (8). Of the reported incidents, 14 took place while the person was accessing government, community, or customer services. Of those who had reported the incidents, 48% were either of African or African-Irish extraction while 12% were of Asian-Irish extraction.

ICI gave two examples of the racism suffered by people who contacted it.

* A young Irish GAA spectator of Asian extraction was told to “go back to your own country” by teenage boys twice his age. His father said the incident has left a mark still playing on the 8-year-old boy’s mind as, out of the blue, he said: “When someone tells you to go back to your own country ... it makes you feel that no one is comfortable with you.”

* A landlord asked a woman of African extraction and her family to move out, reacting to a neighbour’s threat to take the landlord to court otherwise. The woman has been paying the rent on time and taking good care of the house. While the landlord agrees with her in that the decision was unfair, he has tired of the neighbour’s complaints.

“We are responding to an average of five serious incidents a week, while the figure for 2012 was an average of one a week,” said ICI chief executive Denise Charlton. “At first glance this can appear alarming, but it is also a sign that barriers which previously prevented people from coming forward are being overcome.

“Previous research by the Immigrant Council confirmed that people are often reluctant to report racism for a variety of reasons, for example a fear of being perceived as being a troublemaker, concerns about implications for their status in Ireland and a distrust in the police as a result of past experience in their home country.

“It is clear that racism can happen in any place, with people feeling vulnerable at work, online and, most alarmingly, in their own homes.”


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