An Irish mother of mixed-raced children has said she is raising them abroad because she does not want them to grow up in a racist environment.
Suzanne Harrington grew up in Cork but she did not want her children to do the same in case they were "othered” because of their skin colour.
“I wasn’t sure I could trust Ireland to not be racist, even unintentionally,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
Following recent reports of a black child not being given a medal for participating in an Irish gymnastics competition, Ms Harrington said it has caused her to reflect on her own parenting choices.
“It crystalised many of the reasons why I think Ireland still has some way to go when it comes to systemic, baked-in attitudes to race,” she said.
'It’s changed dramatically'
Ms Harrington said she has previously read accounts by a mixed-raced woman who said growing up in Ireland was “unspeakably lonely”.
It is not something she wanted for her own child, and while she said Ireland is “getting there” with regards to multiculturalism, she feels there is still some way to go yet.
“In Dublin and the bigger places, of course, it’s changed dramatically,” she said.
“When I was growing up, the only black people we ever saw in Cork where I grew up were visiting sports stars.
“So, to hear people of colour with Irish accents is not something that I grew up with and, perhaps, my reluctance to bring my kids up in Ireland stems from a time when racism was explicit, abusive and endemic.
“Whereas today, clearly it isn’t - yet, I would wonder if it isn't still, while not explicit and abusive, that it’s still not systemic?”
'It’s anywhere that there’s humans'
Ms Harrington’s children live in Britain - a country where roughly one-in-five come from an ethnic minority - but even there she worries they might face prejudice.
“Britain has a long, long history of multiculturalism and systemic racism is constantly being revealed,” she said.
“I think it’s anywhere that there’s humans, basically.”
According to the 2022 census, 20% of the population of Ireland were born overseas.
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Main image: A mother and child out for a stroll. Picture by: Alamy.com