"Alarming growth" in reports of racism in Ireland

ENAR Ireland's racism reporting system has recorded the highest number of racist incidents since the system went online

"Alarming growth" in reports of racism in Ireland

Image: ENAR

There has been an “alarming growth” in the number of racist incidences in Ireland over the past six months, according to a new report.

The study from the European Network against Racism Ireland (ENAR Ireland) examined reports of racism and hate crimes received through their confidential reporting system – iReport.ie.

ENAR Ireland has been collecting reports through the “fully confidential and independent, civil-society based” website since July 2013.

According to Dr Lucy Michael of Ulster University - who authored the report - the latest data “represents a much higher level of reporting than the previous six-month period, and a significantly higher level than all previously recorded periods.”

There were 245 racist incidences reported over the past six months - 55 more than in the previous period.

At least 155 of these were recorded as being alleged criminal offences – including violence and threats to kill or cause serious injury.

Over the past six months the reporting system recorded:

  • 155 alleged criminal offences (excluding any repeated offences).
  • 98 incidents of verbal abuse (some of which may qualify as criminal offences).
  • 57 incidents involving alleged illegal discrimination.
  • Six cases included alleged offences of criminal damage caused by graffiti, as well as alleged offences of incitement to hatred in all 6 cases.
  • 66 cases concerning alleged incitement to hatred and alleged offences in media and social media publications.

Dr Michael’s report also addresses the impact on victims and found “continuing low levels” of confidence in An Garda Síochána and response levels from the criminal justice system.

“The high number of reports that indicate that the incidents are part of an ongoing pattern of racism, particularly those which have escalated to violence over a period of time, demonstrate that Garda efforts to tackle racism before it escalates need to improve” said Dr Michael.

Inter-generational and embedded racism

ENAR Ireland has warned that half of the victims included in the report are Irish citizens - demonstrating the, “inter-generational and embedded nature of racism against minorities in Ireland.”

The group’s director Shane O’Curry said the Irish state currently “lacks the tools and resources needed to combat racism.”

“The report clearly shows that we in Ireland are not immune to the Brexit and Trump effects,” he said. “When racist violence and dehumanising attitudes against minorities are not treated seriously, hate speech from overseas finds fertile ground in Ireland.”

“The result is an alarming growth in racist hate crimes in this period in the short and medium term. The longer term damage is untold”

He said legislators need to become more pro-active in confronting racism and called on the government to “provide leadership in shaping the kind of policies which can allow us to live in a Republic that cherishes us all equally.”

“In terms of our EU and international obligations, Ireland is delinquent in not having Hate Crime Legislation,” he said. “We need to address this urgently.”

He said the country also needs a "coherent vision and strategy" in the form of a National Action Plan against Racism. 

ENAR Ireland coordinates a network of over 40 civil society organisations working to combat racism in Ireland.