Study reveals 120 racism cases
Published 23/08/2013 | 00:32
Death threats, violence and Nazi graffiti were among 120 separate cases of racism recorded across the country over the last year.
A new study from the Immigrant Council of Ireland revealed that one woman whose family was targeted with racist intimidation for three years had a miscarriage as a result of the stress and trauma.
Council chief executive Denise Charlton described the report's findings as "alarming" and insisted the organisation would work closely with gardai and the Government to tackle the problem.
"It is clear that racism takes many forms with people reporting verbal harassment, discrimination and written harassment as the most common forms," Ms Charlton said.
"However it is particularly shocking that physical violence and the threat of physical violence are so prevalent in a society which prides itself on being open, fair and just for all."
The report found people with an African background were most likely to be targeted, while the majority of those inflicting racism were Irish.
More than a tenth of immigrants reporting racism claimed they had been physically assaulted, nearly 40% said they were verbally abused, and just over a fifth received written harassment.
The study, which examined 120 cases reported to the council from July 2011 to July 2012, also revealed that 20% of racist incidents happened in the workplace, while 13% of people came across racism when accessing government, community or customer services.
Cyber racism has also become more common, accounting for 16.7% of all incidents.
This has prompted the council to recommend that the Government ratify a European convention that calls for online acts of racism and xenophobia - including the production and distribution of offensive material online - to be criminalised.
"A delay of over a decade in ratifying is leaving people open to online abuse and bullying," Ms Charlton added.
"Racism is unacceptable in every form and the internet should not be a place where bullies can use anonymity to spread their messages of hate."
One case study outlined in the report involved a woman who was allegedly forced to the ground and beaten by a gang of girls.
She claimed witnesses walked by without helping as her attackers kicked her in the stomach repeatedly.
Another woman, who claimed she had a miscarriage as a result of stress caused by racist behaviour towards her and her family, said the walls of her home had been covered with Nazi symbols, hangmen and racist slogans.
She claimed death threats had also been made against her family.
The report findings showed a surge in reported racism cases during the summer, with 23 incidents in June and 29 last month - compared with just three in July last year.
As well as calling for Ireland to ratify the European convention on cyber racism, the Immigrant Council has recommended the establishment of a national database that gives policymakers a clear and realistic picture of racism in Ireland.
It has also called for the introduction of policies across statutory bodies and service providers making clear there is no acceptable level of racism.