A recent report from the ENAR (Eire Network Against Racism) has revealed the extent of racial prejudice in Irish culture.
Released this very morning, the disconcerting report is already receiving mass attention from various media outlets. The report, headed by Dr Lucy Michael, explores the issue of “Afrophobia” in Ireland through the use of data from racist incident reporting system iReport.ie. The launch page for the report explains the term “Afrophobia” as denoting forms of global racism aimed specifically at people of African decent and further claims:
In Ireland, as this report demonstrates, racism against people of African descent is not a new phenomenon at all, but one which has failed to be recognised by the State and wider society, even as it has evolved from colonial times. Afrophobia has contributed to the racialisation of Irish identities, both in Ireland and overseas, resonated with anti-Traveller racism at home, and found fertile ground in specific phenomena and events, for example in what Junior Minister for New Communities Aodhán Ó Ríordáinhas called “our love affair with incarcerating people” (from the Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries to Direct Provision), or in the political expediency manifest in the 2004 Citizenship Referendum. (ENAR Ireland)
A summary of the findings indicate that an approximate 30 percent of complaints submitted to iReport were incidences of racial harassment and threat against people of African descent; the harassment was commonly reported as taking place in public, specifically in/on public transport systems. Similarly, many of the complaints raised the concern of being knowingly under constant surveillance in public spaces.
But the threat is not only public; over half of the reports received and studied described instances of online abuse and racial threat, mainly on social networking sites where many people where individually targeted and harassed.
Many of those who reported incidents of racist abuse and harassment further recorded a disillusionment with Gardai services:
There are low levels of trust in An Garda Siochana to address and understand the impact of racist incidents, and to apply the definition of racist incidents adopted in 2001.
People of African descent experience worse outcomes from Garda involvement even where the racist incident is perpetrated against them and, should they confront the perpetrator, are more likely to be considered suspected of instigating the incident. (Report Summary)
Currently, the ENAR is urging An Gardai Siochana and other public bodies to implement a more stringent anti-racist discourse among staff, in order to encourage the official reporting and handling of both verbal and physical forms of racial violence and that an eventual change in legislature is required to protect these groups. For my part, I argue that better educational practices need to be established throughout primary schools, with the conversation being brought into the home as well. The Irish people need to be educated on issues of racism, their psychological and undermining effect in our society. The ENAR further encourages the need for a renewed national action plan to combat racism, and the time for that is now.