The Immigrant Council of Ireland says the number of racist incidents reported last year almost double, and has called for an action plan on racism.
The migrant rights organisation launched an impact report yesterday, highlighting its activities last year.
The Immigrant Council confirmed that it dealt with 46 reports of racist incidents last year, most of which occurred on public transport or in the workforce. The number was up significantly on 25 reported incidents in 2018.
Speaking at the launch of the 2019 impact report, Immigrant Council chief executive Brian Killoran said: “We lack in Ireland a strategic plan for migration, including comprehensive immigration reform and access to justice for migrants. We need co-ordinated responses to racism like a national action plan.”
The organisation, which also runs an immigration helpline and law centre, responded to more than 5,000 calls about citizenship, family reunification, EU treaty rights, and work permits in 2019.
It also supported 27 women, who were trafficked to Ireland for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude or enforced criminality, many of them children when they were first trafficked.
Of the trafficked women supported last year, 23 were trafficked for sexual exploitation, three for domestic servitude, and one for enforced criminality.
Following referral by partner agencies, the migrant rights organisation provided legal advice and support to help formally identify the women as victims of trafficking.
The women were also helped to secure temporary residence permissions, regularise their immigration status, renew long-standing residence permissions, obtain citizenship by naturalisation, submit travel document applications, and make family reunification applications.
Last year, the council also took five High Court cases, one of which involved a seven-year-old girl, who was denied citizenship because her estranged father failed the "good character" test due to previous domestic abuse convictions.
The girl had been born in Ireland, to a mother from outside the European Union and an Irish citizen father, who had subsequently separated.
When the case came before the High Court for judicial review, the decision was quashed but a final decision regarding the girl’s citizenship application has yet to be made.
Commenting on the case, Catherine Cosgrave, the managing solicitor of the organisation’s law centre, said: “While we won the case in July 2019, we are still awaiting positive action from the Department of Justice and Equality.”
Proceedings were also issued in a number of cases relating to unaccompanied children seeking family reunification, including one case that is currently on appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Immigrant Council said it opened a total of 45 new case files relating to children and young people last year.
Greater efforts are also needed to increase diversity and migrant representation in the political system, the organisation said.
In the local elections in May 2019, just nine candidates out of more than 900 councillors elected were from a migrant background.
The Council ran a migrant-councillor internship scheme last year, which led to three participants running in the local elections.