Almost half of racism victims are children

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy: Need to develop a robust response.

Almost half of those subject to racism in housing estates are children while the majority of victims are of black African descent, a new study shows.

Racist harassment in housing is much more prevalent and serious than previously realised, according to new research by the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Two attempted suicides have been identified as being a direct result of racially motivated attacks and three families have “ended up becoming virtually homeless,” according to the ICI which called for hate crime laws to be introduced.

The report, Taking Racism Seriously details housing- related racist incidents, examines the challenges faced and outlines racially motivated attacks on foreigners, especially under-18s.

“This research was inspired by calls to our own anti-racism hotline and the increasing number of incidents of racial harassment in people’s homes or the vicinity,” said the council’s CEO Brian Killoran.

“We uncovered the nature of racist harassment in housing is much more violent than in other settings such as in the workplace or in schools and colleges.

“We were left in no doubt of the serious impact racial abuse and harassment has on people, with, shockingly, two suicide attempts reported as a direct result of racially-motivated anti-social behaviour.

“Three families ended up becoming virtually homeless and there were also many reports of sleep disturbance, anxiety, fear of leaving home or of leaving children to play outside.”

The ICI said the report, produced with Dublin City Council, highlighted clear gaps in policy, training and procedure for those working in local housing authorities and the gardaí.

“Given the increasing diversity of Irish society, there is a risk this issue could mushroom and overwhelm many services,” Mr Killoran warned.

“We, therefore, have a responsibility to put policies and practices in place which will prevent the problem escalating,” he said.

Responding to the report, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, founder of the Immigrant Council, said many people were unaware of the levels of racially motivated abuse occurring in Ireland.

“Our homes should be sacred places, places of sanctuary. This is an invasion of people’s privacy,” she said.

“It’s essential we find a way to develop a robust response that will really bring about change. Now is the time, not in 10 years.”

Meanwhile, a separate survey reveals 73% of adults think the world is becoming a more dangerous place to live in with most of them attributing this to terrorism, war and radical groups.

A study by iReach Insights shows 42% of adults gave up holiday in certain cities because of terrorism while 24% stayed clear of crowded, popular venues.

The survey found that 31% of people think that the problem of terrorism is under- reported by the media while 79% thought that increased tolerance among all existing religions would help to eradicate it.

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