Polls contradict rising racism levels, says integration body

Racism and discrimination towards foreign people living in Ireland is growing, but there is no official body recording statistics to see how prevalent the problem is.

Killian Forde, head of the Integration Centre, an organisation which promotes the integration and inclusion of immigrants, believes that, as the economic situation continues to plateau, the issues are getting worse.

“Reports and surveys massively contradict the official figures of racist incidents recorded by the gardaí which are low.

“This supports our view that only the smallest sample of racism is being captured and recorded. Respectable websites such as politics.ie and boards.ie regularly have discussion threads derailed by racist commentary.

“Typically, online discussions on the economy degenerate into baseless, ill-informed debates on how immigrants are the fault of the current recession and the mass deportation of all non-Irish would solve our economic crisis.”

Mr Forde said it seems to make public representatives popular if they speak out against migrants and took Fine Gael’s Darren Scully, who said he did not want to deal with “black Africans” and Monaghan councillor Seamus Treanor who stated immigrants would “collapse the welfare system”, as examples.

One man, who did not wish to be named, was randomly hit across the face and verbally abused racially as he walked down the street. Another was jumped by two young children on his way home from work and racially abused. These are stories from all over Ireland — from Galway to Waterford, Cork and Dublin, said Mr Forde.

The discrimination is not just against people of a different colour, but towards Eastern Europeans living in Ireland.

The Irish Examiner has seen documentation which shows valid claims for benefits being denied on a technical clause only to later be overturned on appeal.

On one man’s claim, which was later deemed valid on appeal, a welfare officer wrote: “Your decision to remain in Ireland, particularly during a recession, is not consistent with a genuine search for work.” Another man, who was told he was not “habitually resident”, has been in Ireland since 2005 and all of his family live here.

The Habitual Residence Condition is being used as a stock answer for most welfare claims by foreigners, and, according to Crosscare, a migrant support group, about 80% get an incorrect HRC decision.

The condition was introduced in 2004 to ensure those who got the support of the state had an adequately strong connection with it.

Three groups — Nasc, Crosscare and Doras Luimní — will tomorrow publish a report on the issue of discrimination and social protection faced by migrants. “Person or Number” will tell 54 stories of discrimination faced by people on a day-to-day basis.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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