By Suhasini Srinivasaragavan
Their findings reveal that racial crimes are severely underreported, with over 75% of incidents having gone unreported in 2021. A source close to the report, who wished to remain anonymous, said that 1 in 6 persons in Ireland could have faced racial discrimination to a degree.
“When I was pregnant in 2000, a man approached me outside the GPO and told me not to bring another N*g*er into the country…I was so afraid I hid my pregnancy,” said Dr Salome Mbugua, the CEO of AkiDwA, the only NGO in Ireland working towards the rights of migrant women.
Dr Mbugua says she started the organisation after hearing about similar experiences from migrant women in Ireland.
Ireland introduced the National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR) in 2003 to provide a framework to tackle racism. However, the program was shut down in 2009 after the economic crisis.
“I wouldn’t say racism didn’t exist, but it was not as bad as it is now,” said Dr Mbugua as she recounted protests near her office in East Wall in recent weeks. She maintained that the Irish government has not taken a stronger step in tackling racial discrimination since the closing down of NAPAR in 2009.
“We have received calls from desperate women who are afraid that their hostels will be banned”, she added.
The INAR report says that Chinese and other Asian groups were targeted the most, following a similar pattern since the Covid-19 pandemic, whilst the largest share of reports was received from people with Black backgrounds. The report is not county specific, however, it is understood that the majority of racial attacks arise out of Dublin.
Fear of movement in Dublin
“Parents fear for the safety of their children… young people are afraid of getting on buses and the Laus…there is now a fear of movement…it’s not just refugees, it is anyone who looks different.”, said Dr Mbugua.
Areas surrounding East Wall show signs of damage to shops and hostels. Several Chinese restaurants in Parnell Street, Dublin, had broken windows. Many shop owners and passersby hesitated to speak to the press.
However, the fear is not shared equally by all migrants. “I have been here for five months, and so far it has been good”, says a Brazilian immigrant who wished to remain anonymous. “I haven’t felt any issues. Things are great for me here,” says an Italian man who also did not wish to be identified.