'We need to get away from the idea that racism is caused by
incoming populations. Incoming people do not cause racism. It exists
already in the preconceived ideas of the majority community.'
Ronit Lentin, (Co-ordinator of Ethnic and Racial Studies, Trinity College, Dublin). The Irish Times, December 15th, 1999.
The aim of this diary is to provide an updated account of incidents relating to racist attacks, incidents of state racism against minority groups and a chronological account of contemporary racism in Ireland. For alternative sources from anti-racism activists, see for example articles from the media.
Since the government and the gardai refuse to monitor or record incidents such as racist attacks, discrimination and such problems associated with the asylum-seeker issue, one thing that anti-racist activists should endeavour to do is to record the story for themselves. As such, this is an unofficial account of some events, political decisions, and actions related to the rise in racism in Ireland since the late 1990s and the 'new milennium'. Additions, suggestions etc. can be added to this diary by emailing: email@example.com.
November, 98. The Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) publish a report entitled 'The Irish are friendly, but...' (Irish Council for International Students, Dublin, 98) which finds that international students in Ireland experience a 'relatively low level of discrimination in Irish universities, whether of the racist, ethnicist or nationalist xenophobic kind. The bad news is that they experienced a relatively high level of these forms of discrimination in Irish society beyond the campus.' (p.56)
The author of the report, Gerard Boucher, finds that the students surveyed experienced everyday discrimination including: 34instances of verbal abuse, 16 instances of staring, 5 instances of stereotyping, 4 instances of physical assault, 4 instances of hostility against inter-racial couples, amongst other examples.
February 9th, 98. Protesters (the protest is organised by ARC) picket the Department of Justice against the threatened deportations of a number of people.
February 13th, 98. Trinity Young Fine Gaelers organise a debate to discuss the asylum-seekers/refugees issue and invite Aithne ni Chonaill, spokesperson of the Immigration Control Platform group, as a speaker. The meeting is cancelled due to planned protests by members of the Anti-Racist Campaign and the Anti-Nazi League.
April 17th, 98. The ASTI conference passes a motion urging members to ensure that xenophobia and racism do not spread in Ireland, and call on the union to affirm its commitments to multiculturalism and tolerance. [The Irish Times]
October23th, 98. Rodica Stana, one of 47 Romanian gypsies applying for asylum, has her application turned down without even attending her interview (she is giving birth to her Irish-born child when the other gypsies are interviewed). The Anti-Racism Campaign state that: 'It shows that people are being treated as statistics.' [The Irish Times] The 'one-stop shop' for asylum-seekers is picketed by Rodica Stana, her Irish-born baby and other Romanians.
November, 98.Ekundayo Joseph Omoniyi, a Nigerian who fled the military regime, has applied to the Department of Justice in Ireland for asylum, had his case turned down, and was on appearl. He hasn't heard anything about his case for months. In November, when he goes to the Department of Justice to renew his ID card, he is told that his deportation papers had been ready since May, and t! hat he has been hiding. At the time, the gardai knew Ekundayo's address, because he had been signing on at regular intervals and giving the Gardai the address where he lived. From the Department of Justice, he was taken to Mountjoy Prison, and put in a cell with drug addicts. His lawyer attempts to stop the deportation by applying for an injunction (See 16th December, 98 for further details of the case).
November 25th, 98. Francine Blache-Breen, an African-American, explains how her family moved from Dublin city to Letterkenny, Donegal, to escape racist abuse being heaped on their nine-year-old daughter.
'Sinead couldn't stick her head out of the door - there was name-calling, beating and chasing. She became quite afraid.'
Francine also suffered from name-calling and racism. 'I couldn't walk around without getting called names. People were so busy staring at me they put themselves in danger - walking into traffic or driver! s almost hitting other cars. Friends thought I was being paranoid - nobody believed the 'land of open arms' was racist.' [The Irish Times]
16th December, 98. Ekundayo Joseph Ominiyi is told that he will be deported on the 17th December, but the gardai try to deport him on the day before. They refuse to let him take his personal property. He removes his shirt in protest at his treatment, at which point he his handcuffed and pushed onto the ground. Ekundayo screams, the gardai stuff a shirt into his mouth. He is then hit by one of the gardai and the blow breaks his watch. The gardai call him a 'black bastard'. The crew of the plane refuse to take him on board for the flight to Belgium.
Ekundayo is then carried by his arms and legs back to the car by four gardai, and he is returned to Mountjoy. He is held in prison for four weeks over the Christmas period. The gardai claim in court that Ekundayo gave them a number of false addresses ! and that he had stolen a passport in England. Ekundyo in fact, has never been to England, or given a false address (the gardai are subsequently forced to admit as much in court). While Ekundayo spends Christmas in prison, the Supreme Court makes a ruling that his deportation is unconstitutional.
Following the failure to deport Ekundayo, he is charged with assaulting gardai, once while he is handcuffed in the car on the way to the airport, and a second time, also handcuffed, while he is being dragged along the ground at the airport. The trial date is set for 16th February 2000.
December 17th, 98. Plain clothes Gardai arrest two asylum-seekers, Pasca Bujor and Danciu Pricop, exiting Mulcahy's Post Office on North Main Street in Wexford after they had collected their social welfare benefit. They were then ferried to Mountjoy Prison. Action is taken by the Anti Racism Campaign, who contact the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, and a stay is granted! in the High Court until Wednesday 23rd December. The pair's legal team have time now to try and prevent their deportation under the terms of the Dublin Convention, where they would be sent back to France. 'We seem to be turning into a nation where we are now rejecting immigrants,' Mr. Pat Guerin, of the Anti-Racism Campaign angrily reacted. The Anti Racism Campaign organise a picket of Mounjoy Jail on behalf of the Romanians and two other refugees imprisoned there, areguing that the Department of Justice is seeking to deny asylum-seekers due process. The Gardai, in response, state that they are merely implementing orders from the Department of Justice and that the men are arrested because their asylum applications are rejected. [The Wexford Echo, December 24th 1998]
February 28th, 99. 'Ekundayo (Ominiyi) suffered a strange sort of courtesy at the hands of the gardai, and he has not been alone. Agencies working with refugees are regularly told of non-whites being hurt rather than helped by the long arm of the law.' [Sunday Tribune]
March 23rd, 99. Joe Doyle, Dublin's Lord Mayor condemns racism as 'Un-Christian' and says that his vision of Dublin was as 'a welcoming city free from racism and discrimination'. He is later sent some racist and xenephobic hate-mail threatening him as a result of his comments. [The Irish Times]
March 27th, 99. Joe Doyle, Lord Mayor of Dublin, receives racist hate mail following his launch of an anti-racist promotional campaign. The first of two pieces of hate mail said: 'Save Ireland: Stop the Nigerian invasion'. The second included a cutting of an article highlight his launch of the 'Many Peoples One City' promotional campaign. Scrawled across a picture of two childrens faces was: 'Joe Doyle - nigger lover and enemy of the people! We don't want black shit in our city.' Mr. Doyle said the letters were 'so repulsive I can't fi! nd words to describe my feelings. I don't mind being called 'nigger lover'. But 'black shit' - if that's the city I'm Lord Mayor of, then I'd rather not be. But I know it's not.' He also said he'd been told that refugees here had never experienced such public abuse and racist remarks in other European countries. Other racist literature had been stuffed in letterboxes, targetting refugees and asylumseekers in both the north and south-innercity in the weeks preceding this. [The Irish Times]
April 23rd, 99. In relation to Ekundayo Ominiyi's case, Hot Press have the following to say:
'there can be little doubt that Joseph Ekundayo Ominiyi's experiences reflect very badly on the way in which asylum-seekers and black people in particular, are currently being treated in Ireland. There is only one word to describe this phenomenon, and it is racism. This is not an issue we can run away with. People are being discriminated against! , abused and maltreated in our name. We cannot allow it to continue. In particular, we must ensure that those who are employed by the State to deal with refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants on our behalf treat everyone with whom they come in contact, fairly, with dignity and as equals.'
May 21st, 99. 'Banners were flying high in Baltinglass last Thursday afternoon as residents lined the street to welcome 53 Kosovan refugees to the town. Everyone has been very generous with donations of clothes and gifts, and while this is very nice, it is not absolutely essential, because the Kosovars are being very well looked after by the South Eastern Health Board, explained the spokesperson.' [The Carlow Nationalist]
June 28th, 99. Asylum-seekers tell a forum on human rights in Dublin that they are victims of intimidation and want to work. A young black man reads out a letter circulating in Dublin warning about the 'dangers' of granting asylum-seeker! s work visas. The letter says that asylum-seekers are trying to take advantage of 'young insecure Irish women' to gain citizenship. The letter continues: 'Black men are here in Ireland, they want to live like leeches, by taking advantage of our good-natured Irish personality. Once they get here, they are hard to get out because they all look the same and share passports.' [The Irish Times, June 28, 99). The letter also claims that refugees are the main importers of drugs and warns that blacks 'keep five to 10 snakes in their houses and drink their blood'. Other aspects of discrimination experienced by asylum-seekers are brought up at the forum - racism from landlords, security guards and welfare staff. At the meeting, Aithne ni Chonaill speaks of the asylum process as a 'modern form of invasion' and the comment is dismissed by other speakers.
October 21th, 99. The Joint Committee on European Affairs is told that direct provision for asylum-seekers would probably be 'inhumane, discriminatory and economically unsound', by Ms. Cathryn Costello, a lecturer in European Law in Trinity College, also an executive member of the Irish Refugee Council. [Irish Times, 21 October, 1999]
October 21st, 1999. An IMS opinion poll, published in the Sunday Independent, asks 1,101 respondents: 'In your opinion has the increased flow of refugees into Ireland in the recent past led to an increase in racism among Irish people in general or not?' 57% believe there has been an increase in racism, compared to 29% who don't believe there has been an increase in racism (14% don't know, or are not sure). Reference: IMS Poll No. 3, 1999, Code: CMC/MOF/628-S9.
November 19th, 99. Ivor Callely states that 'Rogue' asylum-seekers should be 'kicked out' (of Ireland):
'We must ensure that genuine refugees obtain appropriate support. However, it is unfair that large numbers of asylum-seekers - over 3,000 - who may not be genuine , and who are probably attracted to Ireland because of its welfare state, are enjoying its welfare provisions, including supplementary welfare benefits and medical cards.' On asylum-seekers, the Chair of the Eastern Health Board (responsible for housing asylum-seekers) states that: 'We should not be expected to finance non-deserving applicants who have no prospect or indeed right to be admitted to this country while genuine applicants experience unacceptable delays.! '
November19th, 99. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties unreservedly condemn Ivor Callely's remarks and call for him to withdraw the remarks.
November 20th, 99. Ivor Callely'scomments are deplored by anti-racist and refugee support groups who picket his clinic in Fairview. He is condemned by Labour leader, Ruairi Quinn, who accuses him of fuelling racist flames:
'Inflammatory comments like those of Deputy Callely can be manipulated by others with even even more hostile intent for more sinister purposes,' Mr. Quinn said. [Irish Times, June 07, 1999]
March 19th, 99. Asylum-seekers and anti-racist activist supporters picket the Dept. of Justice to mark the founding of the National Federation of Campaigns Against Racism. Approximately 80 people attend the picket.The federation formed yesterday brings together a! range of organisations,including the Community of Romanians in Ireland, the Association of Nigerian Asylum Seekers in Ireland, the Monaghanbased Roma Support Group and the Anti-Racism Campaign [The Irish Times].
December 11, 99. A new anti-racism code of practise is introduced by Dermot Ahern, Minister for Social, Commuity and Family Affairs. The code involves community organisations participating in the scheme to ensure equal treatment for ethnic minorities.
January 6th, 00. A new report, 'From Bosnia to Ireland's Private Rented Sector' finds that Bosnian families who came to Ireland are trapped in private rented accomodation with very little opportunity to gain housing in local authority housing. Currently, there are over 1,000 Bosnians in Ireland. The report is published by Clann Housing Association Ltd and concludes that: 'the majority of Bosnian refugees in Ireland will not realistically·be able to provide accommodation from their own means'. [The Irish Times, January 6, 2000]
February 4th, 00. According to statutory agencies, racism in the West of Ireland towards asylum seekers, travellers and non-nationals is worsening. The representatives of the agencies which make this claim include Mr. Joseph Langan, CEO of Mayo VEC; Tom Barrett, regional director of FAS; Garda Inspector Durkan; Galway city manager, Mr. Joe Gavin.
February 21st, 00. 5,000leaflets distributed by Aithne ni Chonaill's Anti-Immigration Platform in Cork, call for mandatory testing of asylum-seekers for infectious diseases and advocates a vote on the immigration issue. The flyers are criticised as 'classic scaremongering' tactics, and the rhetoric about immigrants bringing AIDS and other diseases into the country are later repeated by opponents of refugees in rural towns and villages in Ireland. The leaflets are condemned as a 'disgraceful and quite outrageous attempt to label an entire community of people as untouchables' by Mr. Piaras Mac Einri, director of the Irish Centre for Migration Studies. [Irish Times]
March 25th, 00. The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and John Bruton (FG) battle it out over remarks made by Ahern during a trip to Australia. Ahern, who visited a detention centre for asylum-seekers during the visit, was reported as praising the facilities and saying that the Australian model for dealing with asylum-seekers was the 'best integrated system in the world', which are seen by human rights workers as totally inadequate. Subsequently, John Bruton said that Mr. Ahern's comments were an attempt to 'rewrite the history of carefully-choreographed commentary on the immigration issue during his visit to Australia'. Mr. Bruton also called on other EU leaders to condemn Mr. Ahern's remarks along with politicians who exploit immigration as an issu! e. Mr. Ahern, meanwhile, denied that he ever praised the detention centre, with an attempt at an apology at the manner in which his comments were represented: 'Now that I appreciate the scale and nature of the misrepresentations concerning Campsie, I can see that I should have specifically addressed the issue of detention centres rather than giving a general response.' [The Irish Times]
March 29th, 00. 11 anti-racist activists are arrested as they hold a sit-in protest at Taoiseach Bertie Ahern's constituency clinic, St. Lukes' in Drumcondra, Dublin. The protest is to highlight the performance and policies of the government on asylum-seekers and refugees. The activists are arrested and held under Section 13 of the Public Order Act. Two of the activists, Rosanna Flynn and Deirdre O' Shea, are forced to remove their clothes during a garda search following the arrest, although the gardai deny that this takes place.
March 29th, 00. Minister for State, Martin Cullen, visits Amsterdam to tour a Dutch 'flotel' 50 miles from Rotterdam where almost 300 asylum-seekers are housed on a temporary basis. Staff at the flotel said that the Minister seemed 'taken aback' by the cramped conditions in which three adults and large families occupied their days. [The Irish Times]
12th April, 00. A letter from Gregor Kerr (ARC) is published in the Irish Times. It reads:
Sir, - The Fine Gael TD Gay Mitchell warns of "ugly" racist confrontations in inner-city areas unless the Government deals with the immigration "problem" (The Irish Times, November 25th). Recent months have seen a growth in racism in some areas of Dublin. It is thdevelopment of this racism - which has included graffiti, leaflets and even physical assaults on people - which is the "problem" which must be faced up to by Irish society. Blaming refugees and asylum seekers for the growth in racism - as Mr Mitchell certainly implies - is akin to saying there would be no poverty if there weren't so many poor people in the world or blaming the number of homeless people for the housing crisis.
There has indeed been an increase in the number of refugees coming to Ireland in recent months. Having been used to exporting people for so long this has come as a bit of a culture shock for some people. The Anti-Racism Campaign has been formed to campaign against this growing incidence of racism. Unlike Mr Mitchell, however we do not want the Government to "take the situation in hand". Rather we recognise that racism is not a natural phenomenon. No child is born racist. Hatred of a person with a different colour skin is a behaviour which must be taught.
Many politicians and sections of the media have, over the past six months or so, been guilty of propagating racist lies such as that there has been a "flood" of refugees coming to Ireland, that immigrants are causing a housing crisis and indeed that people are coming here to milk the social welfare system. These sort of lies are designed to turn working class people against refugees and to divert public attention from the real scandals in Irish society - scandals such as tax amnesties, land rezoning deals, offshore accounts, golden circles, beef tribunals etc. They will not be successful. The working-class people of Dublin and the rest of Ireland know only too well what it is like to be an "economic refugee".
The economic policies of successive governments have forced many of us, our families or friends to go abroad in search of a decent standard of living. People will not be fooled. What is needed is to break the cycle of golden circles and corruption and free up the necessary resources to provide housing, jobs and a decent life for all - Irish, refugee and immigrant. Then there will be no danger of "ugly racist confrontations". - Yours, etc.,
GREGOR KERR,for Anti Racism Campaign,Upr Camden Street,Dublin 2.
21st April, 00. Up to 70 African asylum-seekers protest in Dublin City centre, over a racist attack on a Nigerian teenager in the Summerhill area of the north inner city. The demonstration is spontaneous and is the 'first public anti-racism protest in the State by African asylum-seekers and refugees'. Previous attacks often went unnoticed and unreported because the African community in particular were simply too afraid to report them.
The victim of the racist attack is Mr. Paul Abayomi, (16) one of a number of Nigerian orphans who are victims of conflict in Nigeria. Before the pr! otest, he didn't know any of the Nigerian community in Dublin. He wore a blood-stained coat that he was wearing on the night of the attack (Wednesday 19th April) and his right eye was bruised from stitches on his forehead. He held a placard which read: 'I am a victim of a racial attack.' Protestors said they were protesting at a series of incidents which had taken place, including pregnant women being spat upon, shots being fired at African-owned shops, vehicles being damaged. They also complained at the lack of police action over racist attacks.
23rd April, 00. Green MEP Patrician McKenna claims that voucher plans for asylum seekers could be challenged under EU law as being inefficient and inhumane. 'It is yet another hostile measure pandering to the racist elements of our society and as such it is unacceptable.'
April 24th, 00. More than three-quarters of th! e public surveyed for the Irish Times/MRBI (77 per cent) believe that refugees should be allowed to work while their applications for asylum are processed, while thirty two per cent favour state housing of refugees. 59 per cent of people surveyed think the government is handing the refugee issue 'not particularly well' or 'not well at all'. As the Irish Times editorial at the time notes: 'The message is clear. There is a considerable reservoir of goodwill in our society towards asylum seekers and immigrant workers. But the Government must ensure that new policies and a generous infrastructure are put in place to cope with the needs of the refugees and the concerns of local communities.' [The Irish Times]
28th April, 00. Delegates at the INTO teachers conference condemn racism as 'a sickness in our society, routed in ignorance and misinformation'. Delegates supported a motion that support services in schools be made available to all schools catering for! asylum-seekers and refugees.
29th April, 00. Mr. Kola Ojewale, owner of a foodstore on Parnell Street, warns a newspaper that the racial tension in the north-inner city was increasing. 'If this continues, we will have to fight war for war. We can't just sit back and watch our people being destroyed. Attacks are becoming more frequent, but nobody ever seems to get caught', he said.
30th April, 00. A violent racist attack takes place in the north inner city Dublin area. The area around Parnell Street, which is referred to by some locals as 'Little Africa' has witnessed rising tension between locals and the African community.
Media reports, and reports from the local African community suggest that the incident started when a man shouted racist attacks at a black motorist sitting in a car outside Infinity, an African foodstore. The white man then crossed the road and entered the Blue Lion pub, and re-emerged minutes! later accompanied by men armed with pool cues, glasses and bottles. According to other reports, a Nigerian who was in the shop at the time suffered a broken arm, while a female shop assistant was pushed and jostled. Some reports suggested that up to 60 people were involved in the fracas. No arrests were made following this attack, while the gardai merely made the pub owner shut his premises during the investigation.
Senator David Norris, who lives in the adjacent North Great Georges Street, condemns the attack and calls for the closure of several unnamed pubs in the area which were responsible for a lot of anti-social behaviour. 'It's amazing how some pubs ever get their licenses renewed,' he said. Shop owner Kola Ojewale reconsiders whether it is worth living in the street.
Local TD Tony Gregory condemns the lack of government policy in the north-inner city, which is the area most densely populated with refugees in the country. 'The north inner city is an area! struggling with a mix of social problems that we are already at our wits end trying to deal with. On top of that, what must be the largest concentration of refugees in the country has now been mixed in with the community. I know that the vast majority of people in the commuity would utterly reject any attacks on anyone, black or white.' (Irish Independent, 2nd May)
1st May, 00. Mayday, traditionally the day of celebration for trade unionists and left-wing groupings in Dublin has been infused with a strong anti-racist theme this year. Although Aithne ni Chonaill, of the racist Anti-Immigration Platform group shows up sporting a placard about trade union hypocrisy on the asylum issue, the day passes off peacefully. Messages against the growing racist sentiment in Dublin and Ireland are sent by Nelson Mandela (read by the infectiously enthusiastic Gabriel Onkenla of the Pan-African Organisation), Inez McCormack (ICTU) and the Labour dep! uty Lord Mayor, Brendan Carr. Mr. Tony Whelan of the DCTU announces that the ICTU are to establish offices in both Dublin and Belfast dedicated to the combatting of racism. Mr. Sam Nolan, secretary of the Dublin Congress of Trade Unions, says that anti-racism is chosen as the Mayday theme as it is 'the burning topic facing workers at the moment'. [The Irish Times].
2nd May, 00. South Kerry Independent TD, Mr. Jackie Healy-Rea warns of 'growing resentment' in rural areas over the asylum issue. He claims that there will be 'civil rumpus' unless tougher policies on asylum-seekers are introduced.
'The resentment is building and it is unbelievable,' he says.
'In the last three weeks in particular it has become very heated. In the last 48 hours alone I have got the height of abuse to see why I won't pull the plug on the Government.'
"The real lack of information is about numbers. One person from the Department will tell you there are 8,000 in the country. Another something elese. My view is there are 80,000 - twenty times more than we are being told. And the Department does not know the actual figures.'
'I'm 100 per cent behind O' Donoghue to give them the road out of the country,' he said. 'The people who aren't here at all are the ones in right trouble. They can't get the big money to get in here. Where did the people who got here get the big money?'
'I am firmly in favour of helping refugees who are genuine. And I am not racist. But I am warning you, in six months' time you will be writing about civil rumpus in this country.' (The Irish Times)
3rd May, 00. About 300 people, including children, parade around Kildare town to protest at Government dispersal plans for asylum-seekers. The march is led by approximately 70 children with placards carrying slogans such as 'Health - are we at risk?' and 'Health? Education? Security?' [Irish Independent].
3rd May, 00. Labour Party leader Ruairi Quinn, calls on the Minister for Justice to 'totally disassociate' the Government from comments made by Independent Kerry South TD, Mr. Jackie Healy-Rea. He said that it was irresponsible of Mr. Healy-Rea to suggest there were 80,000 asylum-seekers in Ireland. 'This is four times the total number of all applications for asylm made since 1992,' he said.
3rd May, 00. Rosslare residents opposed to a plan to convert a hotl into a reception centre claim that 1,000 Nigerians are awaiting trial in Dublin on credit-card fraud. The residents allege that asylum-seekers at Rosslare tend to be 'well-dressed gentlemen' and that 'gold bracelets, neck chains and earrings are the order of the day'. The National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism say that the group were using 'emotive, selective and inaccurate information' with the potential to stir up hostility towards asylum-seekers.
4th May, 00. Following the racist attacks on the foodshop in Parnell Street, peace suddenly breaks out - according to the Star newspaper. It shows a picture featuring Kola (the owner of Infinity Ventures) and Martin Kelly, landlord of the Blue Lion Pub. Kola has a pint in the pub and the landlord says that the bar is not racist. Kola says that he looks forward to better relations with the pub, and that Nigerians had been invited into the pub. This follows reports that the future licensing of the Blue Lion pub may be called into question. Senator David Norris calls for the pub to be closed down.
5th May 00. A Jamaican-born master chef had his holiday home and touring van destroyed in Co. Limerick. The motive is a mystery.
5th May, 00.Tralee Urban District Councillor Johnny Wall (Fianna Fail) claims that refugees and asylum-seekers are bringing a risk of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseas! e to Tralee. 'There are 100 refugees who have been moved into the Johnston Marina Hotel and there have been 50 mobile homes installed in the town's army barracks. As far as I understand, about 80 per cent of these people are from Nigeria and I am pretty sure that they are economic refugees, not political ones·They could be criminals for all we know and it is up to the Department of Justice to look at each individual case more carefully.
'I am also concerned about the health risks. Nigeria is riddled with AIDS and we don't want it here. Of course there are also high rates of sexually transmitted diseases in Eastern Europe and we don't want that either.' 'The Nigerians are standing out because of their colour - I have absolutely nothing against black people, but the fact is that they do stand out - and this is putting the whole issue in focus. The refugees are noticeable now, whereas they weren't before.' (The Kerryman)
11th May, 00. Brendan Carr, the Labour Deputy-Lord Mayor of Dublin warned that if racism continued to spread in Dublin, the situation would get as bad as in Nazi Germany. He said that he didn't think Ireland was a racist nation, but that with Government policy continuing the way it was, there was a danger of that becoming a reality. Fianna Fail then issue a press statement accusing Councillor Carr of making racist statements against the Jewish community in Ireland.
12th May, 00. Michael Healy Rea, son of Jackie-Healy Rea TD, (nicknamed Dolly because he is a 'clone' of his dad) refuses to apologise for calling refugees and asylum seekers blackguards, hoodlums and freeloaders.
'I make no apologies for calling asylum seekers blackguards and I will go further in saying that the vast majority are also hoodlums and freeloaders·There are blackguards and fraudsters among the ! asylum seekers and I can talk with authority because I have been on the receiving end. My shop has had eight attempts to swindle the till and three have succeeded. The mood of the grassroots is that we are not doing enough for our own people while we are writing a blank cheque for people outside the country and 50% plus of those asylum-seekers do not even bother to turn up to their interview. The Department of Justice is giving misinformation when it claims 40% plus,' he claimed. (The Irish Examiner)
12th May, 00. A letter in the Fingal Independent tells of how a resident received a 'Community Notice' flyer through her door, referring to a housing development in Donabate. The note claimed that, based on 'reliable information that the development was leased long term to the state' and the author/s were 'gravely concerned that the development was being purposely built to house refugees in extremely cramped conditions.' The letter-writer then tells of how! the flyer estimates that 100 people would be housed in the development. The kind letter-writer ends the letter with a statement: 'This letter is intended to nip in the bud seeds of racism in one community at least'. [The Fingal Independent]
15th May 00. Racist tensions in Clogheen, Tipperary. A bungalow, which is part of the Vee Valley hotel (and is due to hold up to 30 refugees) is at the centre of a second alleged arson attack.Pickets which had been placed on the hotel for 17 consecutive days (by residents opposing the dispersal of refugees to the village) were lifted.
15th May 00. Residents of Clogheen, Co. Tipperary receive bogus letters allocating rooms in their houses to asylum seekers. One letter was purported to come from The Homeless Society and signed by 'I M BLACK'. Letters told residents that arrangements were made with Clonmel! County Council to allocate Asian families to the area to alleviate the refugee crisis. 'Your council informed us that you have two spare bedrooms in your house.' 'We have therefore allocated the Ghandi family of five to stay with you. They will arive in mid May.' 'Payment to you through your local council will be £20.40 per head per week.' (Irish Examiner)
15th May, 00. Protests against Minister John O' Donoghue at University College Cork where he was invited to open a conference on 'Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in Ireland: Fostering Regional Partnerships'.
16th May 00.'Pregnant asylum seekers forced to sleep in bunk beds in cramped hostel' (Irish Examiner). A pregnant African woman tells of how she cannot afford to buy baby clothes before going to the hospital.
16th May, 00. Minister for Justice, John O' Donoghue runs away from UCD sociologists who criticise his asylum policy at another conference on the asylum-seekers issue.
19th May 00. More than 300 residents of Clogheen, Co. Tipperary, vote by secret ballot to accept 15 asylum-seekers in the village, the vote reported as being 161 to 63 against.
19th May 00. Almost 15,000 Nigerians apply for asylum in Ireland since 1998 but only two are successful. This is reported in the newspapers as evidence that most asylum-seekers are not genuine: 'The figures·underline the high percentage of asylum seekers who arrive here - many from other EU countries - and fail to meet the criteria laid down by the UN High Commission on Refugees·' (Irish Independent, 19th May, 2000).
19th May 00. Minister O' Donoghue plans to fly ! to Lagos to sign a similar deal to the one he signed with the Romanian authorities to speed up deportations to these countries. Nigerian policemen will in future be assigned to posts in Dublin to target 'illegal' asylum seekers. Meanwhile, figures show that the cases of 1,698 Nigerians were determined since 1998 and ALL of them are rejected for refugee status. Appeals resulting from these decisions result in two successful applications in 1998 and none in 1999.
19th May 00. Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams calls on party leaders in the Republic to make a joint declaration on racism to combat xenophobic language in the run-up to the next general election. 'He describes the Government's asylum policy as 'at best a fire brigade response and at its worst, one based on intolerance and bigotry.'
20th May 00. Protest Outside Dept. of Justice. Attended by Residents Against Racism, trade unions, Anti-Fascist Action, Anti-Racism Campaign. Speakers from Sinn Fein, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, RAR, AFA, representative of Tony Gregory. Messages of support also sent by Green Party and Senator Joe Costello.
23rd May 00. Residents of Ballymullen, Co. Kerry struck a deal with the Direcotrate of Asylum-Seekers to reduce the number of asylum-seekers due to be moved into the area.
23rd May 00. Since Christmas 1999, the Dept. of Justice's main policies on asylum have been defined by two 'buzzwords' - 'direct provision and 'dispersal'. Since Christmas, asylum seekers were bussed out of Dublin and placed in B+B accommodation. They were not consulted on this in any way. They are not entitled to any socal benefits or if they leave, are not entitled to rent allowance. 'Effectively they are detailed' (Ainriail bulletin).! At the same time, the government began to lease a number of 'flotels' (prison ships) to be prepared to be placed at ports around the state. Asylum seekers on direct provision are entitled to food and accommodation; in addition they are given only £15 a week and £7.50 a child. This is approximately half what a homeless Irish person is entitled to - a homeless man in a Backlane hostel gets £28.50 - and is therefore discriminatory. The ARC and over 90 community and women's groups oppose the sceme. Community Welfare Officers also oppose direct provision, and the move is condemned by SIPTU and IMPACT trade unions. According to the IMPACT national secretary: 'this inhuman policy is aimed at discouraging asylum-seekeers from coming to Ireland even though we have the resources to face up to our interenational responsibilities'. RAR in the meantime, collect over 3,000 signatures in relation to the cases of Belmondo Wantete and Ekundayu Omiyi.
23rd May 00. Minister for Justice, John O' Donoghue opens a conference on 'human rights' in UCD. A protest by Residents Against Racism members, with placards including one saying 'O' Donoghue OUT! Refugees IN!' resulted in O' Donoghue cancelling his appearance and avoiding answering nasty questions about his stance on asylum seekers.
**** 24th May 00 Victory for Ekundayo Joseph Ominiyi!
Proceedings against Ekundayo on charges arising from his appeals case have been dropped. The gardai and the Department of Justice have been discredited in relation to this case, and after almost two years, Ekundayo can put his ill-treatment at the hands of the state behind him. This shows how state racism in Ireland can be fought against and defeated. Concerted campaiging, picketing of the Department of Justice and the endless petitioning by anti-racist ca! mpaigners has paid off! Residents Against Racism congratulations all who worked to support Ekundayo and highlight his case. Residents against Racism, ARC and other anti-racist groups and activists now proceed to support Belmondo Wantete's case with ever more determination.
25th May 00. Margaret Lombard, Co. Cork (a semi retired school teacher) brings an injunction against a plan to accommodate 38 asylum seekers at a guesthouse in North Cork because she said she was concerned about a concomitant rise in criminal activity in the area.
'I feel concerned for my safety, particularly as I would be the victim of criminal activity. The arrival of so many people in such a quiet, isolated area will cause me great distress and disruption', she stated. (Irish Examiner, 25 May, 2000).
31st May 00. Minister for Justice publishes amendments to the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill. This allows ! gardai to detain without warrant those who are the subject of a deportation order. The amendments force asylum-seekers who have deportation orders against them to remain in a particular area, and to report to the gardai at certain times. These amendments are on top of previous amendments at committee stage which serve to reduce from three months to 14 days the period allowed for judicial review of a refusal of refugee status.The moves were described by Jim Higgins, FG, as 'draconian'.The amendments were criticised in the Dail by Labour and Fine Gael who accused the Minister of trying to rush the Bill through without a debate.
Update: In mid-May, Ireland signed its first readmission agreement with Romania, readmission procedures with Poland are initiated and negotiations for same are begun with Nigeria. Civil rights groups are concerned about the rights of 'refugees' and 'migrants' because such agreements will entail the stati! oning of Nigerian and Romanian liason officers in Ireland 'to help combat trafficking in illegals and overcome the deportation obstacles'. The ubiquitous John O' Donoghue also announces the introduction of a new Gardai National Immigration Bureau with officers in London and Paris. This signals a move to a fast-track deportation policy similar to in other EU states. Ireland now appears to be in line with other EU states in backing the denial of asylum to Nigerian and Romanian refugees. The majority of Romanian 'illegals' are Romas, and Nigerian refugees (the latter despite the fact that sectarian violence this year alone in North Nigeria resulted in 2,000 deaths). The readmission agreement signed by John O' Donoghue and Romanian Interior Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu on 12 May, will allow for fast-track deportation of around 5,000 Romanian asylum-seekers whose applications were previously rejected. Bertie Ahern, in a recent visit to Poland also promised the Polish Prime Mini! ster 'not to introduce visa requirements for Polish visitors to the Republic as a means of discouraging asylum-seekers'. Alongside the barriers to asylum and immigration into Ireland, Mary Harney plans to introduce measures to encourage immigration by 'skilled workers and professionals outside the European Economic Area'. Sources: RNC Agency 22.2.97, 5.8.97; Irish Times 11.5.200, 25.5.2000, 26.5.2000; Agence France Press 11.5.200, 22.6.2000; Irish Independent 19.5.2000; Reuters 4.4.2000. The information in this update is supplied by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC, Birmingham).
1st June. The son of Independent Kerry, TD Jackie Healy-Rae ( nicknamed 'Dolly' because he is a clone of his father) called for asylum seekers who quibble about accommodation to be left to sleep rough. Cllr Michael Healy-Rae (Ind) claimed 85pc of asylum seekers arriving here were not genuine refugees. He said it was outrageous that foreign nationals should be given accommodation priority while Irish senior citizens were "dying on local authority housing lists".
3rd June, 00. Cavan. The Anglo-Celt newspaper notes that a special meeting was convened to consider a request from the Government to Cavan Co. Council to build accommodation for refugees on a two-acre site. At the special meeting, the County Manager, proposed that 100 families should instead be housed in 23 towns and villages throughout the county 'as opposed to the concentration of all in a single site'. The newspaper notes that: 'The debate by the councillors on this proposal, was both humane and practical.' [The Anglo-Celt]
7th June, 00. A Co. Cork village of Glounthaune is the next site of concern expressed by local residents over the Government's controversial 'dispersal' policy. Speculation has been mounting that up to 90 asylum seekers will be ! housed in the Ashbourne Hotel, although the Dept. of Justice deny the plan has been finalised.
8th June, 00. Brendan Howlin, Labour's justice spokesman, says that the Minister for Justice, John O' Donoghue, should concentrate on 'busting the gangs' killing citizens with herion rather than imposing serious penalties on people trafficking immigrants or asylum-seekers. Speaking during the Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill, Mr. Howlin said that the Minister was effectively imposing a penalty equivalent to that for soliciting for murder, on people bringing one non-national into the State [The Irish Times].
8th June, 00. Ms. Liz Fletcher of the Harmony Community Development Project in Athlone, called for the upgrading of facilities at a Travellers' halting site to prevent tension with refugees who are due to be housed in mobile homes in the area [The Irish Times]
8th June, 00. Cork's Muslim community are told they must close a house that they have been using as a mosque for the past five years without planning permission. When planning permission for the mosque is applied for, 60 objections are lodged on the grounds that the crowds gathering at the house are too big, has inadequate fire and parking facilities etc. [The Irish Examiner]
9th June, 00. An ARC Ireland pamphlet points to the hypocrisy of a government reeling from the Flood McCracken and other tribunals while at the same time inviting police from other states to enforce possible mass deportations. The pamphlet also points to the corruption and lack of democracy in the states which the Irish government is colluding with in this case:
'Nigeria has been plundered by a military dictatorship since 1984. Despite having massive resources, especially oil, the country was ranked 19th poorest in the world by the World Development Bank. The country's record of detention without trial (45% of prisoners have never been tried), torture, murder and corruption has led it to being condemned not only by the European Union·'
9th June, 00. Gardai are asked to investigate claims made by a well-known Fianna Fail Kerry Cllr. Michael Cahill (chairman of the Southern Health Board·for comments made by the chair of the Eastern Health Board, see Ivor Callely above). Cllr. Cahill said that it was in the nature of Travellers to 'steal, cause trouble and do the system'. Two people, one a Traveller, asked to have the claims investigated under the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act. The comments had been made on the radio last March. [The Irish Examiner]
11th June, 00. A 46-year old Englishman is stabbed on Pearse Street at 1.20 am. The man, Mr. David Richardson, is from Bristol and is in Dublin with his wife to visit their 24-year-old son, Christian, who lives in Ringsend. Mr. Richardson, his wife Laverna and son Christian fail to get a taxi in the city centre and decide to walk to Christian's Ringsend apartment. They are attacked by a number of youths by the Industrial Development Authority Enterprise Centre, on Pearse Street. The thugs are reported to have first attacked Christian (Christian and his mother Laverna are black) shouting 'Niggers out. Niggers out', and after Mr. Richardson intervened, he was stabbedd in the chest, shoulder, neck and his arms. At the time of writing he is being treated in St. James' Hospital, where he is on a life-support machine.
The gardai from Pearse Street station have so far arrested a number of youths in relation to the attack and described the stabbing as 'frenzied and racially motivated'. [The Irish Times, June 12, 2000]
11th June, 00. Justice Minister, John O' Donoghue holds talks with UK Home Secretary, Jack Straw in London to co-ordinate an Anglo-Irish refugee policy. British asylum policies which are disti! nctly hostile towards refugees and asylum-seekers - voucher, dispersal, fingerprinting and deportation schemes - have already begun to be introduced here. [RTE News]
12th June, 00. A man is charged with the stabbing of David Richardson.
13th June, 00. The Socialist Workers, Anti-Nazi League, Sinn Fein, Residents Against Racism (among others) call a protest to be held outside the IDA centre on Pearse Street, 6 p.m., where the latest racist attack took place.
13th June, 00. The National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism calls on the gardai and the Department of Justice to launch a monitoring programme of racially motivated hate crimes. The NCCRI argue that such a monitoring system would provide 'invaluable information' as to the extent of such attacks. They are supported by the Irish Refugee Council. Ruairi Quinn (Labour) condemns the 'appalling and mindless attack' that was 'a slight on us all' and says that our education system and civic culture have been inadequate to enable us to deal with the recent immigration trend. Meanwhile, a recent survey published by the African Refugee Network found that a third of African refugees in Dublin had experienced verbal or physical abuse. [Irish Times] See 'Dublin racial attack prompts monitoring call'; also 'Stabbed tourist survived massive blood loss' (The Irish Times). Typically, the Irish Independent publishes a sympathetic piece on the race attack, entitled 'Son tells of race hate attack horror', but on the same day they publish one of their usual pieces of refugee scams - see 'Crackdown on scams by bogus asylum seekers', (Irish Independent)
13th June, 00. The Junior Minister, Barbara Roche and British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, agree to exchange fingerprints taken from asylum-seekers. John O' Donoghue justifies the fingerprinting of asylum-seekers over the age of 14, saying that it 'would not criminalise or stigmatise' them. [Irish Times]
13th June, 00. The Irish Independent runs an article on the moves by the British and Irish governments to co-operate to impose tougher policing on asylum-seekers. The headline for the article is suitably emotive and dubious: 'Crackdown on scams by bogus asylum seekers'. John O' Donoghue comments after the meeting with Jack Straw that: 'We had a very satisfactory meeting and I am confident it will result in tougher measures being implemented against the bogus claimants.' [Irish Independent]
13th June, 00. Ronit Lentin, director of the Ethnic and Racial Studies course in Trinity, describes the racist attack in Pearse Street as a 'tragedy waiting to happen'. She predicts: 'It won't be long before someone is killed.' See 'Racial Attack a tragedy waiting to happen'Irish Independent]
14th June, 00. Re: David Richardson. See 'Englishman's family told 'not to have false hope'', The Irish Times.
14th June, 00. The Irish Bishops Conference strongly criticises the Government's policy on refugees. See 'Policy on Refugees draws criticism from Bishops' , Irish Times.
15th June, 00. Approximately sixty people gather at the IDA centre on Pearse Street, the site of the latest attack, to protest against the rise in racist attacks, and to express their support for the Richardson family. Speakers include members of the Socialist Workers Party, the Workers Party, Sinn Fein, the Anti-Nazi League, the Anti-Racism Campaign. Green Party TD, John Gormley addresses the assembled crowd along with Labour deputy lord mayor, Brendan Carr, who join in the condemnation of the Pearse Street incident. They also call on the government and Bertie Ahern to condemn the stabbing, and to show positive leadership in tackling the crisis of racism. The Minister for Justice condemns the attack: see 'Minister will root out the evils of racism';
15th June, 00. A Nigerian asylum-seeker, Mr. Stanley Obinna Chukwu, has his nose broken in a racist attack in Waterford, where he has been sent by the government under their ill-conceived dispersal policy. Mr. Chukwu returns to Dublin, saying that he is 'seriously afraid' of leaving Dublin after being attacked on Manor Street, near the hostel where he was sent to live. A number of youths had approached Mr. Chukwu and other Africans staying at the hostel. 'They told us they didn't want to see any blacks in Waterford. I told them it was the Government that sent me there,' he said. According to the Anti Racism Campaign, such incidents were bound to happen when the Government was 'consistently sending out a message that asylum-seekers are people we should be wary of, who are at least spongers, and at best criminals'. [The Irish Times]
15th June, 00. The Amnesty Internationa! l annual report for 1999 notes what it refers to as an erosion of tolerance in Ireland towards minorities, aswell as an increase in incidents of racially motivated attacks. [See 'We're less tolerant: Amnesty report' Irish Independent, and 'Increase in racist attacks', Irish Times, 15th June, 00]. The Irish Independent leads with an editorial on the same day, asking: 'Has Ireland become racist?"
15th June, 00. The Minister of Justice, John O' Donoghue, strongly takes issue with a statement issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference which had discussed immigration policy. The statement published on Tuesday 13th June, highlighted the bishops' concerns with issues surrounding immgration policy, calling for asylum-seekers to be allowed to work.
18th June, 00. The Sunday papers all carry more in-depth 'features' on the Davidson case. According to Ireland on Sunday, he is 'lucky to be alive', while the Sunday Independent notes that 'in the first three months of this year, 27 similar unprovoked attacks have been recorded'. They also point to Amnesty International's report on Ireland published the previous week, which noted a growing intolerance in Ireland towards minorities, and an increase in racially-motivated attacks in the cases of asylum-seekers and refugees. See Sunday Independent, 'The victims of race hate's rising tide'.
19th June, 00. Meanwhile, Minister John O' Donoghue is completing his grand tour of Europe. This time, he is in Paris to meet French authorities with a view to copper-fastening tight immigration controls between the two countries. (See 'Ministers to discuss tighter controls on illegal immigration', Irish Examiner).
19th June, 00. A survey carried out by Co. Wexford's Parish House Community provides further empirical evidence that most asylum-seekers have reported racist abuse of some form or another since arriving in Ireland. The report finds that almost 80% of asylum-seekers reporting suffering from racist raunts or unprovoked attacks. A shocking 95% of African asylum-seekers reported being on the receiving end of abuse with 20% of women as victims of physical assault. The main reasons for asylum-seekers leaving Ireland included racism (36%), not being allowed to work (33%) and delays in processing from government departments, or harassment (16%). Other findings from the report: 250 Irish people surveyed, 71% believed that less than 50% of asylum-seekers were genuine, but only 1% of those surveyed had actually spoken to or met an asylum-seeker! Pat Guerin of the ARC said: 'I am not surprised that thi! s is the case and I would lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Department of Justice. There seems to be a negative aura generated around asylum-seekers which has led them to become scapegoated for the rise in housing lists or the increase in crime,' he added. A spokesperson for the Wexford Gardai claimed that they had received no reports in racist incidents in relation to asylum-seekers. The survey revealed, however, that asylum-seekers who had been assaulted were afraid to go to the Gardai because of a fear of retaliation, their uncertain status in the country, or fear of the authorities. [A report of this survey can be found on the unison site, (use the 'advanced search'engine provided to find articles on racism) entitled 'Most Refugees endure abuse', Conor Breen The Wexford Echo].
19th June, 00. Two Romanian asylum-seekers who had been arrested by Wexford Gardai last Christmas and detained in Mounjoy Prison at t! he time, were released following Dublin High Court ruling. The two men (Pasca Bujour and Danciu Pricop) had been arrested collecting their social welfare benefit. Following their arrest the two men, they were freed on December 23rd, 1999, and had faced immediate deportation but an injunction allowing them to stay in the country was won after the intervention of a solicitor contacted by the Anti Racism Campaign. 40 refugees have been deported from Ireland over the past six months, and 47 Romanian Gypsies residing in Monaghan can expect deportation within the next few days. [Wexford Echo]
20th June, 00. A celebration dinner is held by members of the Anti Racism Campaign, Residents Against Racism, and others, following Ekundayo Joseph Ominiyi's victory in getting all charges brought against him by the state, dropped. Ekundayo is the guest of honour.
22rd June, 00. The Evening Herald reports that a Nigerian ! asylum-seeker is found dead in her flat in Inchicore. According to the paper, the Gardai are not looking for anyone in relation to the death.
When approached, prominent members of the African community were unaware of the reports, but subsequently confirmed them.
23rd June, 00. The Irish Times runs a small piece on the tragic death of a 25 year-old single Nigerian woman, who is found dead in her flat on Tyreconnell Road, Inchicore. She lived alone at the flat, and had been dead for a number of days, after being turned down for asylum and reportedly being served with a deportation notice.
23rd June, 00. Accommodation costs for 12,000 asylum-seekers for this year are estimated to cost £113.4m. [Irish Independent]
24th June, 00. Residents Against Racism, the Anti-Racism Campaign, and Anti-Fascist Action mount a protest on the Millenium pedestrian bridge across the Liffey. The protest is aga! inst plans to invite Romanian and Nigerian secret police to Ireland as part of the anti-immigration drive. Activists hand out anti-racism leaflets. Banners protesting against government deportations are tied to the side of the bridge to highlight the campaign.
26th June, 00. A 47-page guideline on how to deal with women asylum-seekers and refugees, was published today by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties is published today. The report outlines how many women feel unable, or too traumatised to make a claim for asylum.
26th June, 00. The British National Party consider fielding a candidate in a South Antrim by-election for Westminster. Should the fascist party decide to contest the election their manifesto will include a call for the return of the death penalty and an end to 'bogus asylum-seekers flooding over the border into Ulster', The Irish News n! otes. The newspaper also reports that a local branch of the BNP was set up last January, and that the party claim to have received a positive response from local Protestant youths after distributing a racist leaflet against asylum-seekers in Newtownabbey. [The Irish News]
27th June, 00. The SDLP leader, John Hume, has launched an anti-racism protocol which ensures that the SDLP's election candidates in future must conduct election campaigns 'in a manner which does not incite hatred or prejudice on the grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origins'. The move is partly the result of a recent survey by the Statistics and Research agency, which found alarming levels of intolerance towards Afro-Carribean, south Asian or Chinese neighbours. [The Irish Times]
30th June, 00. New research shows that racial stereotyping of the Irish in Britain can lead to depression, alcoholism and suicide: at the same time, an article i n the Irish Examiner notes that: 'On our streets, in our pubs, our offices and our schools the tendrils of racism are wending their way into every facet of Irish life as the number of asylum seekers grows. ...That young children have picked up on the anti-immigrant feeling is proof, if it was needed, of the extent to which racism, xenophobia and sheer intolerance have permeated our country.' [The Irish Examiner]
30th June, 00.The President, Mary McAleese, refers sections of the Illegal Immigrants Bill to the Supreme Court. The Bill effectively reduces the time period allowed by asylum seekers to appeal application refusals to the courts to just 14 days. The Illegal Immigrants Bill, if implemented, makes it increasingly likely that mass deportations will be implemented, in line with Minister for Justice, John O' Donoghue's agreements with the Romanian and Nigerian governments.
July 1st, 00. 85 Limerick-based asylum seekers are mad welcome by a local refugee group, Doras Luimnigh. The 84 men and one woman have arrived from the Congo, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Russia, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Kosovo, Albania and Algeria. Having only recently arrived in the city, the group cook a beef curry and soup in the Redemptorists Hall at a welcome party. The Redemptorist Hall has also been opened four days a week as a drop-in centre for the refugees and asylum seekers. Doras Luimnigh, which organised the get-together, comprises concerned Limerick people operating as a refugee support group. Their state aims include to support asylum seekers and refugees in the city, to provide both information to the local community on the refugee and asylum issue, and to ensure that Government decisions and treatment of refugees is fair and compassionate. [The Limerick Leader]
July 1st, 00. Liz O' Donnell, the Junior Minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs, calls for legal protection, including rights and access to the courts, to be given to vulnerable groups such as refugees. She also heavily criticised the media's role in contributing to levels of intolerance and negative feeling towards foreigners. Although she did not specifically criticise the illegal Immigrants Bill, she did note that it had been referred by the President to the Supreme Court to judge its constitutionality. [RTE NEWS]
July 1st, 00. Asylum seekers made welcome in Tramore, Co Waterford. [The Irish Times]
July 20th, 00. According to an article in the Irish Independent, David Richardson, the victim of the race-hate crime on Pearse Street, has promised that he will not be deterred from returning to Dublin. [Irish Independent]
July 23rd, 00. Brendan O' Connor, in the Sunday Independent, launches broadly negative and profoundly depressing attacks on travellers and Romanian refugees. See 'Time for travellers to move on' and 'Romanian beggars can't be choosers'.
July 30th, 00. Following on from Brendan O' Connor's articles of the previous week, UCD's Dr. Brian Fleming attacks the racist portrayal of minorities in the media in an article entitled:.'The media's treatment of travellers is naked racism' (Sunday Independent].
31st July, 00. A young German working in Ireland is badly beaten while waiting at a Nitelink (late night service) bus-stop for a Clondalkin bus. He is approached by a number of Irish youths whom he can't understand, and is beaten unconscious after telling them that he is German.[The Irish Independent]
1st August, 00. The Irish Times also carries a report on the weekend bus-stop attack.
August 5th, 00. Many groups have acknowledged that attacks on tourists and non-nationals is a growing problem, to the extent that the Union of Students of Ireland plans to launch a campaign to warn foreign students about the dangers of attacks. The Irish Times cites the case of Jocéli Araujo, a Brazilian, who is not black or an asylum seeker but has experienced racist taunts and verbal abuse. According to the report, an Irish man approached Joceli and her friends and told them there were 'too many foreigners' in Ireland. At a later stage, when she was trying to enter a nightclub with two other Brazilians, the bouncer on the door refused them entry on account of the dark complexions of her friends. ['Foreigners face rising racist abuse' The Irish Times]
August 5th, 00. According to Tourist Victim Support, they have recorded 11 attacks on people staying temporarily in Ireland, but have not been able to classify them as racist or non-racially motivated attacks. [The Irish Times]
August 17th, 00. Christian Richardson, the son of stab victim David Richardson,(See 'Racial Attack a tragedy waiting to happen', Irish Independent) is verbally abused on his way to work in Fairview by a group of youths. He immediately hands in his resignation at work and flies home to Bristol. See 'Employers demand action to hit racism' Irish Independent.
August 19th, 00. The National Assembly Against Racism, the British umbrella group of anti-racist organisations, says that Irish political leaders 'have to bear some responsibility' for racial intolerance currently being experienced in Ireland. [The Irish Times]
August 19th, 00.In an attempt to adapt to the changing policing environment associated with cultural change in Ireland, the gardai establish an 'intercultural unit'. Clare Murphy reports on a visit by members of the unit to a Muslim woman living in Dublin's city centre, who has been the victim of a racist attack.
September 14th, 00. Anti-racism and refugee support groups welcome the conviction under Incitement to Hatred legislation of a Dublin Bus driver after he verbally and racially abused one of his passengers. Reports are available on RTE 'Bus Driver convicted under Incitement to Hatred Act' (14th September) and the 15th September edition of The Irish Times: 'Racism code for Transport firms urged'.
On Saturday 7th October, at 1pm, Residents Against Racism held another protest rally on the steps of the Department of Justice, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2.
The protest served to highlight the case of Belmondo Wantete, who was up before the courts again on charges of assaulting the gardai.The rally was supported by a number of promininent politicians, civil rights campaigners and trade unionists.The speakers included Mick O' Reilly (ATGWU); Joe Higgins (Socialist Party TD), Senator Joe Costello, amongst others.Rosana Flynn (Residents Against Racism) also took the opportunity to hand in approximately 10,000 signatures which had been collected in support of Belmondo's case against the gardai.Before handing in the signatures, Rosana asked Minister for Justice, John O' Donoghue, to drop the charges against Belmondo before they were thrown out of court.
Monday 9th October, 2000 - Belmondo's case, which eventually finished on Friday 13th October, results in almost total success.Belmondo is found not guilty of assaulting a Garda officer on a number of accounts.Although Belmondo's lawyers are not successful getting one charge (to do with resisting the gardai) dropped, this charge can be appealed.According to the judge who ruled on the case, Belmondo is characterised as a man of character, a man who has been through a lot.She also congratulated him on his dignified manner throughout the ordeal.
The Irish Times (see RARLinks) carries a number of reports during
the week which highlight the embarrassing behaviour of the gardai.One
detective denies racially abusing Belmondo and calling his children
"monkeys" when searching his house at 3 am on May 1st 1995.
(The November edition of RAR's newsletter is available now with more details on Belmondo's case.)
December 4th, 00. Mr. Nasser Diaby, the chair of the African Refugee Network complains that both he and his girlfriend were physically assaulted on Parnell Street during the previous week. Mr. Diaby was referred to by two passers-by as a "nigger" and a "monkey"; upon confronting the men, he was subsequently attacked. According to his version of events (found on the Irish Times, December 4th) three more attackers joined in the assault. Following the attack, Mr. Diaby reported to the local Fitzgibbon St. police station, and is planning to get his attackers charged with incitement to hatred crimes. [The Irish Times]