A young Nigerian woman who spoke out about alleged racial abuse at a south Dublin school said she experienced more discrimination in Ireland than in any other country.
Seyilogo Braithwaite (20) came forward with allegations of racial discrimination at St Columba's College, after being inspired by the international Black Lives Matter movement.
Ms Braithwaite has now inspired other black alumni from the same school to come forward with their experiences. The allegations have also prompted an inquiry at the prestigious fee-paying school, which described the claims as a "wake-up call".
Ms Braithwaite attended St Columba's College school from 2015 to 2017. She said that she endured being called the n-word, and other racist slurs. Ms Braithwaite said she reported many incidents at the time, but said there needs to be a culture change at the school. St Columba's has a student population of around 300, and many students are international.
"I was constantly called the n-word, over and over again," Ms Braithwaite said. She said there was another incident where she was having lunch when another student quoted a racially violent section from 'Of Mice and Men' at her. There were also incidents where she was targeted because of her natural hair.
She said that often after she reported incidents, the perpetrator would be given a "warning" but they would continue to do it again.
Ms Braithwaite said she was also "ostracised" for making the reports.
She alleged that there were other instances where she heard staff pass racist comments. In one case, a presentation following a class trip to Zambia had suggested disease was rampant in Africa.
Ms Braithwaite is now based in Malaysia. She has lived in four different countries over the course of her life.
"My experience at the college definitely changed my opinion of Ireland. It made me very wary of making friends with white people when I left the college and went to university," she said.
"That's not to say all white people are racist or anything like that. But the experience definitely gave me a bad impression, so I tried to stick with making friends with minority or black people instead because they could understand, having similar experiences.
"I've lived in four countries, and Ireland is the one where I felt the most racism. It really is the most racist country I've lived in."
She added that her experience at the school had an impact on her mental health. Ms Braithwaite first made the claims against her former school on social media. Since then, she said she has been inundated with messages from other former students who have also decided to come forward.
Eventually, she decided to write directly to the school herself. In her email, she said that Ireland has a racism problem "and it's crystal clear that its most prestigious school is not exempt from that problem." She also included a document compiling all of the stories from other students which had been sent to her.
"I didn't want to go on the media, I didn't want to make this a huge story, but now that it's forcing them to acknowledge that there is a problem at that school I do not regret coming forward one bit," she told the Irish Independent.
Ms Braithwaite said there are many former students who are black who also want to see changes, and she added that none of the former students ever saw a black or person of colour in a staff position of the school.
Boarders at St Columba's College pay fees of almost €30,000 a year. Day students pay between €8,600 and €11,500 at the Church of Ireland school.
In a statement to RTÉ, the school said that Ms Braithwaite had "bravely shared with us her experiences of racism while attending the school" which had prompted other students to share theirs.
"We can only imagine how difficult it was for the young people involved to write down those experiences. We thank them for having the courage to bring these matters to our attention," the statement said.
The school said it was taking the allegations very seriously. Mark Boobbyer, the principal, said they had been a "wake-up call" and the school would not shy away from making any changes.