Sharp rise in reports of racism leads to minorities fearing for their safety

An anti-immigration protest in Dublin earlier this year. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Eoghan Moloney

A “significant increase” in the number of assaults and criminal acts linked to racism has led to members of minority groups fearing for their safety, according to a new report.

In its annual report for 2022, the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) said there were more than 600 reported incidents of racism, including violent assaults, and discrimination last year.

The number of reported incidents is up from 400 in 2021.

The INAR has said preliminary findings for 2023 point to an ever-worsening atmosphere for Ireland’s minority groups.

It said it is experiencing an increasing number of people contacting it in fear for their safety and the safety of their families due to racism.

This has been fuelled by far-right agitators who have embedded themselves within anti-immigration protests nationwide, the INAR said.

Anti-immigrant protests have been held since last October over refugees being provided accommodation in various locations and this has led to a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment generally.

There has also been an increase in misinformation surrounding criminal acts, with gardaí countering misinformation relating to immigrants posted on social media in recent months.

“The 2022 data shows the continued prevalence of racist incidents in Ireland, confirming racism as an everyday reality for people from minoritised groups,” said INAR board member Fionualla O’Connell.

“Compared to 2021, the reports of criminal offences and incidents have increased significantly.

“The persistent levels of repeat harassment, and the continued lack of clear responses when they are reported to the authorities is a cause for ongoing concern.

“In recent months the far-right’s promotion of anti-migrant sentiment has led to an increase in contact with the INAR from minority people expressing fear for themselves and their families.

“This atmosphere is having a deleterious impact on community confidence, and further marginalises already marginalised groups.

Effective responses from the authorities can help reverse this,” she added.

Incidents reported last year included 223 criminal incidents, such as racist assaults

There were also 190 reports of illegal discrimination and 136 reports of hate speech, the most ever recorded by the INAR.

The INAR has made it easier for victims to report racist attacks or racist incidents with the launch of a new app, iReport.

The Government yesterday launched its National Action Plan against Racism for the next four years, which includes further legislation to "strengthen protections from hate crime and hate speech, including online".

Public policy will also strive to better address racial discrimination in society under the national plan.

A new coalition for the action plan has been established in an attempt to tackle racism at “systemic and institutional levels” but the coalition’s chair, Patricia Munatsi, has said there are a number of steps the Government must take for the plan to be effective.

“The State must ensure that the national action plan is housed and chaired in the highest office of the land to guarantee support and buy-in at the highest levels of government,” she said.

“It must also ensure the full resourcing of the plan by setting aside money in the Budget for its implementation.

“[The Government must] also ensure the monitoring, review and evaluation of the national action plan annually; to be done in full partnership with ethnic minority communities,” she added.