The number of racist incidents reported across the country has more than doubled in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest figures released by the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR).
A total of 276 racists incidents, ranging from racist hate speech, hate crime, to discriminatory incidents, were reported to INAR in the first three months of 2020 compared to 132 in the first quarter of 2019.
The network, which uses an online reporting system to capture the scale of racist incidents, said an almost four-fold increase in online racism accounts for the significant rise in reports so far this year. The number of online incidents increased from 44 in the first quarter of 2019 to 167 in the same period in 2020.
A significant number of reports were made in relation to Coronavirus-related comments against minorities and the circulation of memes derisory to Chinese people, the network said, adding that it will publish a dedicated Covid-19 themed report in May. Other reports of online racism stemmed from election literature and social media posts by far-right candidates and supporters during the General Election; online ‘commentary’ following Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s assertions about Muslims; and an online video stereotyping Romanians.
Dr Lucy Michael said: “We are seeing a significant rise in online racism, even before the coronavirus encouraged people to stay home. The data shows clearly that this is driven by the ease with which racist materials circulate on major social media platforms.”
The network is also concerned about an increase in assaults reported, rising from 12 in the first three months of 2019 to 16 in the first quarter of 2020. Dr Michael said: “A total of 50 physical assaults were reported last year and that was high. ..if reports continue at the same pace we will have 64 by the end of the year, which would be a significant increase."
INAR said the reporting of racist crimes to An Garda Síochána is still low overall but that twice as many assault victims reported to Gardaí in the first quarter of the year compared to last year.
An iReport App and a ’’Responding to Racism Guide’’ is available at inar.ie