INAR’s 2022 iReport.ie Reports of Racism in Ireland
2022 Reports of Racism in Ireland: Overview
- There were 600 reports received in 2022.
- Assault rates remained high in 2022. Most assaults were by strangers.
- Businesses and service providers were the most common perpetrators of discrimination.
- Repeat harassment made up almost half of all racist crime reports in 2022, and included assaults, abuse, threats and criminal damage. This is a particular concern because of the likelihood of escalation.
- Most crimes and incidents of discrimination were not reported to anywhere else.
- Only 20 percent of crimes were reported to Gardai.
- Ninety percent of people who reported a racist incident included information about the negative psychological impact it had on them.
- Explicit racist language was used in 51 percent of criminal incidents and 43 percent of discrimination cases.
Reports of racism
Key trends observed in this period:
- Overall, report numbers showed an increase in reporting since 2021.
- Reports of criminal offences and incidents were up significantly compared to 2021 rates.
- There were fewer numbers of racist incidents reported which were neither criminal offences nor illegal discrimination.
- Racist hate speech was slightly more reported than in 2021.
Against the Politics of Despair
In November 2022 up to two hundred protesters, mainly local residents, gathered to protest outside the disused ESB building on the East Wall Road in Dublin’s Docklands. The spark for the protest was information, received indirectly by frustrated residents, that up to 370 asylum seekers would be accommodated there. The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY), already over-stretched across its myriad responsibilities and now responding to the emergency of accommodating the thousands fleeing the war on Ukraine along with those arriving as a result of the post-lockdown surges in international protection applicants, had dropped the ball on informing, let alone consulting members of the community.
Although not all of the protesters saw themselves as racist, the protest was categorically racist and grew with every iteration, peaking at 1000 in December, also seeding multiple other protests country-wide. Part of the strategy by agitators included a barrage of fabricated stories and false claims, all with racist undertones, spread virally through social media. But the agitation’s real success and growth lay in its organisers ability to refine their tactics to tap into decades of genuine grievance which few political actors had recognised or vocalised. That this happened in East Wall, once the crucible of the Irish Trade Union movement and birthplace of socialist republican playwright Sean O’Casey, ought to be a salutary lesson. In recent decades East Wall has endured the indignities of Ireland’s neoliberal development model; the casualisation of jobs, underemployment and unemployment, the scourge of heroin and criminality, while housing costs soared. In addition to this, the community, increasingly abandoned by the parties of the left they had helped create, now looked-on as they became surrounded by the glass towers of the Irish Financial Services Centre and unaffordable plush apartment complexes operated by private equity funds. East Wall, like the Red Wall former Labour heartlands in Britain, and the rust belts of the US and continental Europe, has become hollowed-out developmentally while simultaneously being left in what Peter Mair aptly described as “The Void” of party politics. The void in consultation led to the far right articulating its politics of despair.
Many of those who initially swelled the ranks of the protests, which by now had spread country-wide, had no truck with racism. While a significant number of these dropped away, key players in the protests included local personalities with definite political ambitions who ere being advised and supported by agitators with intentionally fascist politics. These agitators, who in turn were drawing on support and resources from the British, US and to a lesser extent European fascist networks, had been refining their playbook since the 2019anti-asylum seeker agitation in Oughterard, and the agitation which had led to the arson attacks in Rooskey and Moville. Anti-racists and anti-fascists had also drawn lessons from these events and warned of the dangers. At a webinar hosted by INAR in 2022 on behalf of the Irish Research Council funded “STOPFARRIGHT” project at Maynooth University, community workers with first hand experience of these events exhorted the authorities to learn the lessons and to “include the local community more in planning direct provision centres and create more ‘safe spaces’ for local communities to mobilise and discuss issues”. Community workers also called on the authorities to address the systemic racism in society, and to mobilise its resources to rectify the housing and homelessness crises, and other social and economic conditions which underpinned the despair being given expression by the far right.
At the time of writing the long-delayed National Action Plan Against Racism (NAPAR) is expected to be launched. This is a courageous and ambitious document which, in its focused understanding of systemic racism, proposes in some detail targeted remedies to institutional and structural racism. But it is a long way from a finely worded document to an implementation plan with adequate oversight mechanisms, adequate resourcing and a commitment to an all-government and inclusive all-society approach. Our fear is that responsibility for the NAPAR will be left to DCEDIY alone to implement as if it is an add-on to other policy initiatives. Treating societal racism in this way ignores the central contention of the NAPAR that racism is a systemic issue which requires a whole-of-society approach to tackling it. As we have seen already, we ignore this understanding at our peril.