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Gardai 'stop more blacks' claims survey

Gardai have been accused of racial discrimination after new research shows that Sub-Saharan Africans are twice as likely to be stopped by Irish authorities.

The research, conducted by the European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, found that 59pc of Africans involved in the survey had been stopped by gardai at least once in 2008.

The survey also showed that one-in-three Eastern Europeans has also been stopped in the same period.

The survey, which involved more than 1,000 Sub-Saharan Africans and Eastern Europeans, showed that Ireland has the highest stop-rate for any ethnic minority surveyed in the EU's 27 member states.

The only other ethnic group to experience similar rates of police stops was the Roma in Greece -- with 56pc saying they had been stopped in 2008.

Racial equality support groups have since expressed their concern at the disturbing news, which was published in a report last month.

Claire McCarthy, policy officer with the Immigrant Support Centre, told the Irish Examiner the body was distressed with the emergence of "ethnic profiling" by gardai.

"There is a feeling on the ground that there has been ethnic profiling by gardai.

Warns

"If you're black and you live in Ireland, you have a much, much higher chance of being stopped by gardai.

"The EU report goes a long way to proving such an approach by the gardai is a reality."

The survey warns that "even where perceptions of (racial) profiling cannot be proven, the fact that significant numbers of minorities believe they are victims of profiling is evidence that work needs to be done to improve police relations and interaction with minority communities."

But anti-profiling measures are considered an imperative part of training among the country's 600 garda ethnic- liaison officers.

David McInerney, of the Garda Racial and Intercultural Office, said he was also concerned by the findings as "anti-profiling measures are a key focus for us".

"If a member stops somebody without reasonable grounds to believe they have committed an offence, there is something wrong and we won't tolerate it," he said.

cmcbride@herald.ie


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