Two in three international students in Ireland have experienced or witnessed racism

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Katherine Donnelly

Two in three international students in Ireland have experienced or witnessed racism, and only one in 10 incidents are reported to the authorities, according to a new report.

The most common form of racism was verbal (42pc), followed by “indirect” racism (39pc), such as by being treated differently or unfairly due to their race, particularly in the workplace.

One in eight, 12pc, experienced physical racism, including physical assaults, the throwing of objects or being spat at. A further 4pc indicated that they had experienced or witnessed online hate speech.

The findings, outlined in “Speak Out Against Racism”, published by the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS), follow the first in-depth investigation into international students’ experience of racism in Ireland.

More than 420 international students participated in the research and 97pc were from outside the EU and the wider European Economic Area (EAA), covering Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Overwhelmingly the participants were from Latin America (78pc) and most were English language students (82pc) while 18pc were students in higher education institutions.

Some 63pc reported experiencing or witnessing racism, with 68pc of incidents occurring in Dublin. However, there were incidents in both urban and rural settings and some students experienced or witnessed it more than once, in different parts of Ireland.

One in four (25pc) of all incidents happened on the street, followed by social settings (restaurants, pubs or nightclubs), the workplace, or public transport (each at 15pc).

Almost one in three (31pc) survey participants reported witnessing or experiencing incidents in “other public settings”, while social media accounted for 6pc of cases.

One in three of the research participants studying in higher education reported experiencing or witnessing a racist incident on campus.

Of those who provided information on the perpetrators, 35 said the offenders were youths or teenagers.

There were 34 accounts of racial discrimination in the workplace at the hands of work colleagues, supervisors, and customers, 25 cases involving strangers and 23 cases involving individuals or groups of men.

In addition, 17 survey participants reported institutional racism, such as at their higher education institution, when dealing with the Gardai, or at a hospital.

Reporting of incidents to the authorities was very low, at only 10pc and, of those who did report, 67pc were dissatisfied with the response they received.

ICOS executive director Laura Harmon said: “Everyone who studies in Ireland should feel safe here, whether that’s on campus, on the street, on public transport, in work or socialising in bars and restaurants.”

She said it was clear that perpetrators of racism are everywhere and not confined to one place, which was why a whole-of-society approach to tackle the issue was needed.

Ms Harmon said while legislation and strategies to tackle racial discrimination were essential, there must also be a genuine commitment at the highest level across government to prioritise addressing racism, including the allocation of sufficient resources.

“Awareness raising of human and equality rights, education and diversity initiatives, and better reporting mechanisms and supports for victims of racism, are among the key areas that will need more investment.”