REPORTS of violent racist acts and verbal abuse towards immigrants has led the Immigrant Council of Ireland to set up a pilot service for people who have experienced or witnessed racist incidents.
The Racist Incidents Support and Referral Service will provide information and support, including referrals to counselling services where appropriate, as well as recording data and reporting on trends and advocate for legislative and policy change where necessary.
Spokesperson for the ICI Ruth Evans said it was something the organisation wanted to do for some time as it had perceived there was a need.
Ms Evans said the ICI feared that due to the recession there had been an increase in racism.
The service will operate as a pilot programme initially, with a staff member available each Friday to take calls on – 01 645 8058 – and meet people face to face by appointment.
There is scope for the service to be expanded.
ICI founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said: “For too long, Ireland has been in denial about the racist incidents occurring in our communities and our collective responsibility to combat racism,” said Sr Stan.
“We know from our experience working with migrants who have experienced racism that people are subjected to violence and threats of violence, have their property damaged and are subjected to racist taunts and discrimination. We might wish to deny Ireland has a problem but until we expose it, we cannot address it,” she said.
“To do this effectively, we must not only support those who experience racism but also have more accurate information about the number and type of incidents occurring.”
The service will offer a supports to people who have experienced or witnessed a racist incident, from providing information and assistance in relation to existing avenues for seeking redress, for example the gardaí, the Equality Tribunal or the Press Ombudsman, through to linking people with counselling services if required.
It will also record data and report regularly on emerging trends.
Information will be collected about what type of incidents are occurring, for example, actual or threatened violence or property damage, offensive remarks or communications, discrimination in the workplace, and discrimination when applying for a job or in the rental market.
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