Number of racist assaults in Ireland at highest number to date

Abuse was reported in 88% of cases, with 41 cases of repeated harassment

Number of racist assaults in Ireland at highest number to date

Image: ENAR

A new report has found there were more racist attacks reported in Ireland in the second half of last year.

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR) iReport for Ireland recorded 165 incidents, with 37 serious offence reported.

It says racist language was used in 30 of these and 23 of these were committed by strangers - 18 were by male perpetrators.

An assault appeared in 25 reports - including seven resulting in an injury - while 13 cases involved a serious threat to harm or kill.

This is the highest number of assaults reported in any period to date.

Abuse was reported in 88% of cases, with 41 cases of repeated harassment (28%) and three cases of threat (26%).

Verbal abuse was reported in 57% of cases.

The report says two cases concerned sexual harassment, and one concerned rape.

While damage was involved in 16 (10%) cases, including against business, houses, vehicles, windows and missiles. And personal effects were damaged or lost in six cases.

Social media harassment

Thirty-one incidents included or exclusively referred to racist statements in the media or on social media.

Eight cases involved the direct harassment of a named individual or family through written racist statements sent by text, e-mail or social media.

Two reports involved "intensive and persistent" harassment of people identified through social media groups.

Three other reports concerned harassment by friends, family members, and work colleagues.

Victims in the 165 cases reported in this six-month period were most likely to be in the category of 26-35 years (24%).

People over 35-years-old were targeted in 36% of cases, compared to mixed-aged groups in 17%, directly contradicting the pattern in the last period.

Under 18s constitute less than 12% of all cases, but the report says this demonstrates the particular vulnerability and fear felt by this group.

While the age profile of perpetrators shows the 36-55 age group accounted for the biggest percentage:

Source: ENAR

Shane O'Curry is the director of ENAR Ireland: "It is appalling that we find ourselves yet again confirming in statistics what Africans, Travellers, Roma, Muslims, Migrants and Minority Irish already know; that racism is a fact of everyday life."

"We also have still more confirmation about the impact of hate crimes on the victim and their behaviour, and also, through the ripple effects of secondary victimisation, on community relations which can deteriorate as a result."

"We are also reconfirming, yet again, the clear link between the use of racist language and violence against all groups."

The European Parliament announced last week that it would be inspecting the Irish Government on its compliance with the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia.

Mr O'Curry said this "underscores yet again the urgent need for the Government to act now introduce hate crime legislation."

The group is calling for hate crime legislation to protect all minorities in Ireland.

"Our data shows that the likelihood of very serious hate crimes is consistently high, our members understand that we need hate crime legislation urgently. The Government must act now before it’s too late."

Author of the report, Dr Lucy Michael of Ulster University, described the number of assaults in this period as "deplorable".

She said: "Given the number of academic and NGO reports on racism in Ireland over the last 20 years, it is outrageous that that state has still not developed any significant response to the problem."

"We see ongoing problems both with the recording of racist crimes by An Garda Síochána and communication with victims after reporting, as well as evidence of direct racist discrimination in a range of public services detailed in this report."

"There is a very clearly a culture of ignoring racism in our society amongst our public servants, and of perpetrating it," she added.