Tuesday 23 July 2019

The Floating Voter: New Irish councillors demand action after racism on campaign trail

Green Party councillor Hazel Chu. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Green Party councillor Hazel Chu. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Two newly elected councillors have called for urgent action on racism after being subjected to bigotry on the campaign trail.

The councillors, who are both from minority backgrounds, have recounted how their intelligence was questioned and they were branded “paper Irish” while canvassing.

Poll topping Green Party councillor Hazel Chu also revealed she separately had to collect her brother from a hospital emergency department when he was the victim of a racist assault.

Ms Chu’s mother, who was born in Hong Kong, was also racially abused and hit with an ashtray while working in a restaurant.

Speaking to Independent.ie’s Floating Voter podcast, the Dublin City Councillor said: “The thing is with people being racially biased it has always happened in Ireland so there is always an undercurrent there but what has happened in the last five years it is a lot more brazen.”

“They don’t call it racism, they say it is an issue with immigration and they point to fact that it is controlled immigration what they need rather than they don’t want immigration. It’s a different conversation but it is becoming a louder conversation,” she added.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael Councillor Yemi Adenuga described how voters asked her  if she was “intelligent enough to run” for the council and told her she was taking Irish jobs by becoming a politician.

“The reality is you are seeing more and more of it because it is not dealt with,” the Meath County Councillor said

“We are sweeping it under the carpet and we are saying we are dealing with it well and we’re not that bad.

“When you don’t deal with issues like this it escalates and my worry would be that more and more people will become more influenced by it.

“People who ordinarily wouldn’t have made it an issue would think about it and make it an issue and then you see more of it happening,” Ms Adenuga added.

The Nigerian born councillor also discussed growing up in a polygamous home where her father had seven wives and 27 children.

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