Sunday 11 December 2016

Kevin Myers: Irish people have shown themselves to be remarkably tolerant and wise towards migrants

Published 07/10/2011 | 18:00

'Migrants have been assaulted, urinated on and forced to leave their homes, a study on racism has found": thus ran the opening line of a newspaper report on an 'investigation' by the Immigrant Council of Ireland. One would assume that the Immigrant Council's allegations were based on a careful and extensive study of Irish society.

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Not true. The report was based on interviews with just 24 people, all of whom had presented themselves at the ICI Racist Incidents Support and Referral Service. This is like making an overall assessment of relations between men and women in Ireland by talking to just two dozen victims in the Rape Crisis Centre. So, careful reading of the ICI report shows that the allegation that "migrants have been ... urinated on" actually means "one migrant", and is based on a single disgusting attack on an African driver on Dublin Bus. Such conduct is utterly depraved: but was it racism? Because how many such attacks have happened to white Irish bus drivers?

One African complainant, whose family were subjected to racist taunts from teenagers in a Dublin housing estate, told ICI: "One can wonder why so far we have not made a statement to the police. We have so far taken a cautious approach and the support we have been receiving from our Irish friends and neighbours has been tremendous. It is also fair to say that since the people who have been abusing us were by and large young, we were hoping that they were going to change through the education system! This has not been the case, however. It is true that we did not make an effort to talk to their parents mainly because we felt that it could backfire on us."

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