Gardai to meet Japanese woman over racist attack


Gardaí will today interview a Japanese woman who claimed she and a female friend were the victims of a racist attack in Dublin earlier this month.

Ms Itsuko Kuwayama (29), who has lived in Ireland for two years, said she was assaulted along with Ms Naoko Kato by seven Irish teenagers after the national football team's homecoming celebrations in the Phoenix Park on Tuesday of last week.

The women said they were punched, kicked, and had their hair pulled viciously by the youths who tried to steal their bags.

Ms Kuwayama said they informed a garda outside the park about the attack but "he did not seem to be interested in pursuing the matter".

In a letter to The Irish Times which was published yesterday, she said she did not believe gardaí did enough to investigate such attacks.

My Kuwayama said she was contacted for the first time yesterday by a garda from Blanchardstown Garda station, who she arranged to meet today.

A Garda spokesman said they had no formal record of the incident until they contacted Ms Kuwayama yesterday.

They were satisfied that no member took note of the women's complaint on the night of the alleged incident, he said.

"We have successfully tracked her down and we will be investigating it," he added.

However, Ms Kuwayama insisted that she and her friend did make a complaint about the incident on the night it occurred to a garda.

The head of the Garda's Racial and Intercultural Office said it was "disturbing" that Ms Kuwayama had claimed that the force did not do enough to investigate such incidents.

Chief Supt Patrick Cregg said "the most serious view is taken of racist incidents and . . . they are all investigated as a matter of policy.

"I'm not downgrading her perceptions but we would have to look into that to see why she feels that way. If there is any fall-down it would be at the level of communication."

A racial incident has been defined by gardaí as one which is perceived to be racially motivated by the victim, a member of the Garda, a witness or someone acting on behalf of the victim.