Wednesday 7 December 2016

Reported racist attacks in Ireland reach record highs

Tomás Heneghan

Published 03/08/2016 | 08:28

Gardai File Picture
Gardai File Picture

Reported racist attacks reached a record high in Ireland last year, according to a new report.

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The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) Ireland  figures for the second half of 2015, released on Tuesday, showed 25 assaults had been carried out in the last six months of the year.

Of the 25 recorded assaults, seven involved injury, while 13 involved a serious threat to harm or kill.

Director of ENAR Ireland, Shane O’Curry described the record numbers as “appalling” and said the report confirmed what minority groups already know from their own experiences.

“We also have still more confirmation about the impact of hate crimes on the victim and their behaviour, and also, through the ripple effects of secondary victimisation, on community relations which can deteriorate as a result.

“We are also reconfirming, yet again, the clear link between the use of racist language and violence against all groups. The number of serious offences and hate crimes is alarmingly high,” he explained.

Mr O’Curry added: “This report, and last weeks announcement by the European Parliament that it would be inspecting the Irish Government on its compliance with the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, underscores yet again the urgent need for the Government to act now introduce hate crime legislation.

He called on authorities to introduce hate crime legislation in Ireland “so that they can participate as equals in our society”.

“That is why our group Action Against Racism has been leading the Love Not Hate campaign for hate crime legislation, involving 55 organisations. Our data shows that the likelihood of very serious hate crimes is consistently high, our members understand that we need hate crime legislation urgently. The Government must act now before it’s too late.”

A total of 165 incidents were reported in the period, with 37 being described as “serious offences”.

Abuse was reported in 88% of cases, including 41 cases of repeated harassment.

A further two of the reported incidents involved sexual harassment, while one case involved rape.

Damage to buildings, vehicles, personal effects and homes was also reported in a number of cases.

The report’s author, Dr Lucy Michael from Ulster University described the increased reports of assault as “deplorable”.

Dr Lucy explained: “Given the number of academic and NGO reports on racism in Ireland over the last 20 years, it is outrageous that that state has still not developed any significant response to the problem.

“We see ongoing problems both with the recording of racist crimes by An Garda Síochána and communication with victims after reporting, as well as evidence of direct racist discrimination in a range of public services detailed in this report.

“There is very clearly a culture of ignoring racism in our society amongst our public servants, and of perpetrating it.”

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