Racist attacks revealed on Roma
A shocking 97% of Balbriggan's significant Roma population have experienced racist abuse in their time in Ireland a new study has found.
For the first time, an in-depth study of an estimated 65 Roma families in the town has been undertaken by Cáirde to investigate the experience of this community and learn how it might improve and how national policy might be informed to better the living conditions of Roma communities across the country, based on the Balbriggan experience.
The result is a new study called 'Projectos Romano' which looks at the Roma experience in Balbriggan in terms of accessing employment, education and healthcare as well as the communities struggles with integration and their experience of racism.
It is that latter category that the most startling figures emerge from the study, saying that 97% of the participating members of the Balbriggan Roma community had experienced racist abuse in their time in Ireland.
One Roma participant is quoted in the report saying: 'Yes, they threw rocks at my window and kicked down my front door.'
A Roma mother said her boys were bullied in school and told: 'Gypsy, go home.'
When the respondents were asked what they would like to see changed about their situation in Ireland, the elimination of racism was the most common answer at 79%.
The report states this issue emerges 'again and again' with participants 'strongly outlining the imperative need to address this issue for the future not only of Roma people but for society as a whole'.
The report states: 'Racism is spread in various parts of society and impacts directly or indirectly on how Roma people can participate in it. The need for integration stands out starkly when reading through the answers.'
The unemployment rate among the participants is an extraordinary 90% and unemployment is also flagged by participants as being a barrier to their integration into the wider community.
Some 33% of respondents measure their level of integration through employment opportunities in this country. 'Roma respondents find it difficult both to acquire a job because of the widespread misconceptions about their ethnicity, and to maintain one if their identity is revealed at work,' the report states.
Language is identified as another barrier to integration with some 46% of participants speaking no English or 'beginner-level' English. The report recommends a range of supports to improve language and literacy skills in the Roma community.
The Cáirde report also sets out a number of recommendations to tackle the racism issue and aid integration.