Racist attacks prompt call for tougher legislation

 

The Government was yesterday urged to introduce tougher anti-racism legislation by a group working with asylum seekers and refugees following repeated racist graffiti incidents at an African shop in Cork.

Ms Gertrude Cotter, co-ordinator with Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre, which works with asylum seekers and refugees in Cork, said there was a need for more comprehensive legislation to deter people from engaging in blatant racist abuse.

"We don't have strong enough anti-racist legislation.

"All we have is the Incitement to Hatred Act and that really isn't strong enough and, anyway, it has never been put into effect to any great degree," said Ms Cotter.

She was commenting after a graffiti attack on the African shop operated by Nigerian refugee Mr Kehinde Adewole, on Coburg Street, near Cork's city centre, which was daubed with racist threats.

Mr Adewole, who has been living in the Republic for the past five years, said that he opened the Morning Star Mini-Market selling clothes three months ago.

He said he had been the victim of four racist graffiti attacks - the latest being the second in six weeks.

"It's very upsetting because if they can do this and paint these slogans, who knows what they might do next. It's very threatening," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Adewole's friend, Mr Oluwole Shillyns, who was born in Nigeria but has German citizenship, revealed that his car had been burnt out at his home at Sandyford Drive in Glasheen at the weekend.

"Before this, my car had been broken into five times, they had damaged the door and the steering and things like that, and my car was the only one being targeted so it makes me think it is racist and then at the weekend, they burnt out my car," said Mr Shillyns.

Ms Cotter said that such instances of racism were rare in Cork, although asylum seekers and refugees did encounter more subtle forms of racism, where they were treated with a suspicion which Irish people would not accept. "We had two separate cases recently of two immigrant women being stopped in shops and accused of stealing coats that they had with them.

"The gardaí were called but both were able to prove via video footage that they had the coats when they left their hostels that morning."