Friday 23 August 2019

'I've had to endure monkey chants driving Luas'

New transport campaign aims to end racism

New drive: Mthi Sydney (left) from Dublin Bus and Paula Carbozer from Irish Rail, at the launch of anti-racism campaign. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNewsie
New drive: Mthi Sydney (left) from Dublin Bus and Paula Carbozer from Irish Rail, at the launch of anti-racism campaign. Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNewsie
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

A Luas driver has told of the shocking racist taunts he has endured while driving a tram.

Lanre Bode Olatunji (46) was born in Nigeria but moved to Ireland 23 years ago.

He has driven a Luas tram since 2004 and said he had been subjected to racist comments frequently.

"People say things and make gestures and ask questions," he said. "Sometimes they don't even know they are being racist."

He said on a few occasions people have walked in front of the tram and made racist gestures at him. "When I drive the tram, people come out in front of the tram and make monkey chants.

"I feel angry and hurt but there is nothing I can do. I keep on driving."

Once an elderly man threatened to get him fired.

"He knocked on the cab door and said: 'I'm going to get you sacked, you black bastard.'

"That was shocking. I didn't think an elderly person would do that."

Despite these encounters, the father of six hopes attitudes are changing.

"I think things are getting better. Raising awareness helps."

He was speaking at the launch of a new anti-racism campaign on public transport.

Hundreds of selfies donated by public transport passengers have been amalgamated to create a large montage representing diversity on the Transport for Ireland (TFI) public transport network.

From August 13 to 15, commuters at Heuston Station in Dublin are being invited to show their solidarity and take a stand against racism by donating a selfie to feature in the campaign and share on social media.

"This campaign is very important. It shows that the community stands together and supports us and that racist behaviour is not OK.

"We are all human beings and we need to treat each other with humanity."

Anne Graham, CEO of National Transport Authority, said: "By standing together with transport workers and operators, we can celebrate the growing diversity within Ireland's public transport services and ensure people of all nationalities are treated with the respect they deserve."

Irish Independent

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