An Irish woman has described the shock of being racially assaulted in Dublin city centre while walking to work last week.
Aoife, who is from Dublin, says a man punched her on the shoulder and told her to "get back to your own country".
The 35-year-old says she was left shaken by the incident and has called for there to be more gardaí on the streets of the capital.
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, Aoife - who is Black and Irish - said a man approached her on O'Connell Street one morning last week.
She said: "He punched me in the shoulder, and then hit me with his bag and said 'get out of here'.
“He said ‘go back to your country... get the f*** out of here’. I was shocked and embarrassed - everybody could see, and I didn’t know what to do. I just ran off crying.
"The whole day I was shaking... I was scared for the whole week going into work.
“Now, walking on my own, I have to feel like I take extra precautions to be safe.”
Aoife said she has experienced racism for her whole life, particularly during her teens, but she has “definitely seen an increase” in recent times.
She said: “It’s coming back - I don’t know if it’s because of COVID or what the reason is. It's horrible.
“I’ve had friends who have had this too - they’ve had bottles and eggs thrown at them.”
Rise in racist incidents
The Irish Network Against Racism says there has been an increase in racial on-street incidents over the past year - despite fewer people interacting during the pandemic.
Their 2020 report recorded 700 racist incidents in 2020 - up from 530 in 2019 - with a record 594 hate speech incidents.
Shane O'Curry, director of INAR, observed: “These kind of incidents are reported directly through us… but we’re also picking up on them in our widespread consultations with people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
“In spite of the lockdown, there was no decrease - in fact there was a slight increase - in on-the-street racist incidents, and an absolute explosion in online incidents.
“It leads us to conclude there’s a push factor from online to on-the-street racism - as people rehearse their racism, if you like, in online spaces, they become more accustomed and feel more entitled to express them. It tells us how dangerous some of the elements of structural racism are.”
Anyone who has experienced racist incidents can report them via INAR's online forms.