“You have to be black to feel that there is a lot of racism in Ireland.”

By Eoin Ryan

Concerns revolving around dangerous rhetoric and scapegoating ethnicities have reared their ugly head, according to Doras. The refugee and migrants organisation said this is due to the continuing stream of Ukrainian refugees seeking asylum in Ireland.

“Ireland has an obligation to consider and process all asylum applications, and to provide a basic standard of accommodation, food, clothing and healthcare,” Doras CEO John Lannon said. 

“It is vital that the suffering of refugees and migrants isn’t added to by being victimised and wrongfully scapegoated for failures in the political system, both nationally and internationally”.

The main issue regarding racism in Ireland is how under-reported it is, according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland, as people believe it will not help. They said it did not help that An Garda Síochána did not recognise racism as a form of discrimination on their recording system until recent years.

This made it impossible to get an official record of the extent of racism in Ireland and they could not properly respond to incidents involving those targeted due to their background or perceived ethnicity. This has now been introduced but there is no evidence of support and redress for victims of racism when incidents are reported.

Only 25% of crimes involving racism or discrimination were reported to Gardai in 2021, down from 43% in 2020, according to a report by the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR). Those who did expressed “extremely low levels of satisfaction with garda response.

One of the 75% of these unreported crimes was towards a man of Arab background as two men and a woman shouted racist slurs and attempted to attack him. He did not report it as he did not believe they would investigate his case.

Mpho, a (Ugandan?) resident living in Meath, explained how a boy said “The way I hate black people, they should just go back where they’re coming from,” while sat close to her year old daughter on the school bus

The Principal suspended him for two days, but also wanted her daughter to confront him and express how she feels

The daughter refused this because “The intention was to hurt her feelings, so why is she supposed to explain that to somebody who already knows what they are doing.”

The INAR report said racist crime cases involving assault frequently involve people known to the targeted persons and patterns of harassment can escalate in these cases. This issue followed suit as the boys physically attacked her a month later, hospitalising the (teenager/child) and giving her a concussion.  

Mpho expressed her dissatisfaction at official responses to the incident, saying “if you go to the guards, they do not do anything, just report it.” When it was reported to the school, “they did not do anything about it this time. They said they talked to the child and they talked to the child and they talked to the child’s parents.” It was later discovered the boy was not even meant to be on that school bus.

Others have experienced a similar lack of response from Gardai after reporting similar instances. The INAR report said a A Black-African woman was verbally abused and threatened with a knife at her throat after she asked a stranger to respect social distance at the bus station. Six construction workers who were fixing the road were witnesses, but there was no response from Gardai after she reported the incident.

Discrimination may have also had a negative effect on her seeking employment, preventing her completion in a property management course. She described going to 50 interviews but still being unable to get a job, leaving her as the only person on the course to not get a job despite earning a distinction. She believes discrimination had an involvement in this as she was also the only black person on the course as “Nobody said ‘ we are not hiring you because you are black’ but that is the impression i got.”

INAR reported a similar incident involving a Bangladeshi resident, after passing through 3 stages of online interviews, travelled to a thief country for final stage interviews, all with positive feedback. After these interviews, he was told that Irish applicants were preferred because of their ‘professional connections’ by a person not previously involved in the recruitment process. There was no further communication from the company or recruitment team, and they had started recruiting for the role again.

On top of these blatant racial issues, there is covert racism, forms of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, on top of this. A lady moving seat further away and getting stared at in church. Walking to the other side of the road and crossing back after they pass. Not being allowed to sit next to other people on the bus or “People would rather stand up then sit next to me”. Mpho and other residents of Ireland from a foreign background have dealt with all of these on a consistent basis while living in Ireland.

The full extent of racism is sometimes hard to see for the majority of Ireland’s population because “You have to be black to feel that there is a lot of racism in Ireland.”

“I’m trying to manage my life in such a way that I avoid places where I can be a target because it exists, I know it is there. I have seen it happen to me. I have been pulled by my hair, been called a monkey.”

“I’m scared, i dont feel free because I am constantly watching over my back… because I know I can meet someone angry with their own issues that can take it out on me. “

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