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A fifth of racist incidents have happened in the workplace - Immigrant Council

A new report from the Immigrant Council of Ireland shows a big increase in the number of racist incidents reported to it in June and July of this year.

Image: Two hands reaching each other via Shutterstock

THE IMMIGRANT COUNCIL of Ireland (ICI) has reported a surge in the number of racist incidents reported to it over the summer with a total of 120 incidents dealt with in the past 12 months.

A detailed study of the cases it has dealt with in the past 12 months has been published today with 23 cases responded to last June and 29 last month compared to just three cases in July 2012.

Overall between July 2012 and July 2013 the ICI has responded to 120 incidents.

The workplace is the most prominent place where racist incidents have been reported, accounting for 20 per cent of incidents dealt with.

In one case study a young woman told the ICI how one of her managers would speak to her very slowly as if she did not understand him even though English is her first language.

She also recounted other incidents like a manager leaving the elevator every time she entered it and her co-workers once refusing to touch cake she had offered them.

The woman, an Irish citizen, also claimed she overheard workmates talking about what it means to be “really Irish” and saying negative things about “foreigners”.  She said she felt stressed to the point of considering suicide and eventually quit her job.

Cyber crime

The increase in the number of incidents being reported has been described by the ICI as a concern but it has welcomed the rise in the number of people willing to come forward.

“At times we were responding to an average of eight incidents a week. While very concerning [it] also show[s] that progress is being made in overcoming barriers which had in the past made people reluctant to come forward,” Denise Charlton, chief executive of the ICI said.

Just under 16 per cent of incidents were reported as happening on the street, while over 13 per cent of incidents were reported when government, community or customer services were being accessed.

The ICI saying that people of an African background are most likely to be victims of racism while those who inflict racism are most likely to be Irish born.

The top two kinds of incidents reported were verbal harassment (39.2 per cent) and discrimination (33.3 per cent) with written harassment – letters, posts on social media, leaflets and posters – accounting for just over a fifth of all incidents.

Cyber crime accounted for 16.7 per cent of the 120 incidents with the ICI calling for the ratification a European Convention which calls for online acts of racism and xenophobia to be criminalised.

It also wants a national database of racist incidents and the introduction of policies across statutory bodies and service providers “making clear there is no acceptable level of racism”.

Read: Racism reporting website sees reports “flood in”

More: Jason Sherlock helps launch new anti-racism initiative

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Hugh O'Connell

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