'Black Africans' face most racist abuse in Ireland, says report

Study finds social media increasingly used to abuse minorities and ‘mobilise’ racism

People from a "black African" background are the most vulnerable to racist attack and harassment in Ireland, according to a new report.

The study from Enar, the European Network Against Racism (Ireland), found social media is increasingly used to abuse minorities and "mobilise"racism.

It also reported a low level of satisfaction with responses to complaints about abuse and a high level of confusion among victims about support available from the Garda.

The report covers the period from July to December 2014. Enar received reports of 182 incidents of racist verbal abuse, violence, discrimination and other attacks.


Its chairman, Shane O’Curry, says this figure is considered the “tip of the iceberg” because the reporting system in use since July 2013 is relatively new.

Reports of racist incidents are gathered from more than 40 civil organisations around the State and also from members of the public, including victims of abuse, via Enar’s website iReport.ie.

The reporting system is regarded as the most credible and comprehensive in Ireland.

Mr O’Curry says the figures showed incidents of racist abuse remain steadily high.

“Anecdotally, it seems racism is increasing, that people feel a greater entitlement to express their racism, and that is worrying.”

The report finds people identifying as either “black African” or black from any other background accounted for 59 of the reports of abuse.

People from Asian and Asian-Chinese backgrounds accounted for 29, while there were 19 incidents involving people identified as Muslim.

There were 16 cases involving Roma and 14 among Travellers.

Groups targeted

Significantly, 32 incidents, almost 20 per cent of the total number, were directed against groups of people rather than individuals.

“Twelve of these involved racist comments or representations in national and local media, or on social media with a wide general audience,” the report says.

Sites such as Facebook "are increasingly used by both racist and anti-racist groups to organise and share ideas and event information".

An example cited was a Facebook group which organised protests against Roma families in Waterford last October.

The most common form of racist abuse reported was verbal, with shouting and abusive language involved in 70 incidents.

There were 55 incidents of racism in the media reported. Violent assault was a feature in 10 per cent of attacks.

Men were twice as likely as women to perpetrate abuse, but victims were almost equally likely to be female as male.

Daylight hours

Most reports of abuse in the second half of last year came from south and north Dublin respectively, followed by Cork.

Incidents occurred more often during daylight, particularly those connected to encounters in public spaces and on public transport at peak travel hours.

The report refers to harassment in and around victims’ homes throughout the day and in the evenings.

“Neighbourhood-based harassment was often reported as involving repeated incidents of harassment, damage and sometimes assault.

“The overall numbers of incidents therefore significantly under-represents the numbers of incidents which have occurred.”

The report says victims were most likely to be aged between 26 and 55.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times