Gardaí told of 20% of racist attacks

Less than one in five of the racist incidents, including acts of violence, which were reported to a European human rights body here were also brought to the attention of gardaí, it has been claimed.

In the second half of last year, the European Network Against Racism Ireland (ENAR Ireland) received 165 reports of racist incidents through its iReport.ie tool, including 37 offences which it described as “serious”.

But its report for the period claims that, in 139 of the incidents, the matter was not brought to the attention of gardaí.

“The largest proportion [55 reports] did not think the gardaí would or could do anything about it, 45 thought it would not be taken seriously by gardaí and 27 did not feel comfortable reporting to gardaí,” ENAR Ireland said. “13 reported previous negative experiences with gardaí, and one with police in another country. 18 did not know how or where to report to gardaí. 14 feared reprisals as a result.”

It said that of the 28 cases which were reported to gardaí, “garda responses were predominantly reported as being reasonably prompt initially, but most expressed frustration with the outcome”.

“In one case of very serious conflict and extreme violence, gardaí took more than 15 minutes to arrive at a city centre location, and bystanders intervened to help the victims, unhappy with the delay in light of the risk to the victims,” it said. “In 13 cases, gardaí took reports, but there was no follow-up in five of these.”

ENAR said the period between July-December last year saw the highest number of assaults to date — assault appeared in 25 of the reports, including seven with injury.

“A further 13 cases involved serious threat to harm or kill,” it said. “Damage was involved in 16 (10%) cases, including against business (2), houses (6), vehicles (6), windows (4) and missiles (3). Abuse was reported in 88% of cases, with 41 cases of repeated harassment (28%) and 38 cases of threat (26%). Verbal abuse was reported in 57% of cases.”

Fifteen incidents required medical treatment or resulted in serious health problems for the victims, according to ENAR. That included four cases of serious injury (three hospitalised), including an assault on a pregnant woman. One victim reported two suicide attempts as a result of their experience.

When it came to the perpetrators of the abuse, the report found middle aged people (36-55) accounted for the most incidents (45) of any age group followed by the 26-35 category (24 incidents). .

As to the victims, the largest ethnic category targeted in the period was Black-African. Along with Black-Other, this accounted for 47 of the reported cases (28%). White Europeans (mainly Eastern European) were targeted in 21 (13%) of cases.

People described as South Asian were targeted in 20 cases (12%) and Chinese or East Asian in 10 cases (6%). Travellers were targeted in 9 (5%) cases, and Roma in 11 (7%).

“There is evidence of low levels of trust in gardaí to attend all kinds of incidents in a timely manner, and to pursue an investigation,” ENAR concluded.

Examples of reported racist incidents

  • “Two Irish boys were chasing an Afghan boy, when they caught him, they beat him with a hurling stick and an iron bar. The boy fell unconscious on the ground, he had no shoes on and they repeated to strike
  • “Client was pregnant. Ongoing harassment by neighbour escalated. Neighbour verbally abused and then physically assaulted her [punched her in the stomach]. Used racial slurs.”
  • “My five-year-old mixed-race daughter went to press the button on the traffic light to cross the road for the bus. The lady hit her on the hand and then started screaming ‘fucking disgusting’ and ‘fucking Indian’ at her.”
  • “A group of four men drinking outside a pub started harassing me and my friends as we walked by calling us geishas, making ‘chinky eyes’ and kung fu noises. They surrounded us and propositioned us for sex using racist language.”
  • “He made offensive jokes, one being that all Travellers should be rounded up and gassed to death and that it was a shame the Carrickmines fire only killed 10 Travellers.”
  • “He came and stopped in front of me. I ignored it and changed my way. He came again and stopped in front of my face again, pushed me and start screaming in the street, ‘fucking Muslim and fucking Syrian leave our country no place for you here’, till an Irish guy take him away of me and a girl asked me to go home as it is not safe this day to be out.”


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