Why and How to report racism in Ireland

RESPONDING TO RACISM BLOG
Welcome to our new Responding to Racism Blog. In the first post of the series we stress the importance of reporting racism and provide useful information about how to prepare for reporting racist incidents or looking for redress.
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Why and how to report racist incidents

Mar 4, 2020Responding to Racism Blog0 comments

Underreporting of racism in Ireland

If you have experienced, witnessed or heard about a racist incident it can be confusing what to do next, where to report it, what steps to take and what, if anything, can be done to address what happened. Data collected through iReport.ie suggests that, for a variety of reasons, 5 out of 6 people would not report to Gardaí or official bodies at all and most of racist incidents in Ireland go unreported and, as a result, remain invisible.

A reluctance to report racism may arise from an affected person’s previous negative experience with the police or other official bodies in Ireland or their country of origin and/or perceived fear of jeopardising residency application or status. Barriers to recording racism may also include a fear of exposing oneself to further victimisation by sharing identifying details; a hesitation to engage in a lengthy legal or other process(es); a reluctance to use forms that use complicated technical language and other off-putting vocabulary and a reluctance to use a reporting system that is lengthy and unwieldy.

These barriers mean that people from minority communities experience racism which goes unrecorded, unacknowledged and not addresses by the state and wider society.

Why should you report racism?

We can’t stress enough how important reposting racism is, not only for the affected people but also for their respective communities and the society as a whole. Reporting racist crimes and discrimination goes a long way to support work across Ireland by INAR and its Members to achieve better services for victims of crime and discrimination, better protection for those likely to be targeted and hold statutory agencies and government accountable for failures in this area. Reporting takes time and can bring up distressing feelings and memories. It can, however, also bring some relief to report and to tell someone what has happened. But the most important thing about reporting is that it brings benefits to other people potentially targeted by racism, gives them a voice, and makes Irish society more equal and inclusive.

If you make a report, your report will help ensure that what happened is less likely to happen again.

We strongly encourage reporting all racist incidents to the police and relevant state bodies to get redress and keep the record of racism in Ireland. However, If for whatever reason you are reluctant or afraid to go this route, you can report racist incidents anonymously to iReport.ie to make sure there is a record to what you experienced or witnessed.

You should report racism to:

  • Receive support, information and advice on how to seek redress for racism.
  • Racist incidents and crimes that are not reported cannot be addressed.
  • Act against the people or institutions responsible.
  • Ensure that what happened is less likely to happen again.
  • Understand how often racist incidents occur and who is experiencing racism in Ireland.
  • Monitor racism and make relevant authorities aware of its nature, scale and manifestations.
  • Help devise effective local strategies for combating racism.
  • Inform our arguments for stronger anti-racist policies at national level
  • Create public awareness of the types of racism that exists in Ireland.
  • Promote equality and send out the message that racism is not acceptable in Ireland.
  • Racism is a denial of basic human rights.
  • Racism is prohibited by Irish equality legislation and international law.

HOW TO REPORT RACISM: USEFUL TIPS

When you decide to report racism and to seek redress there are some general matters you should keep in mind. The below list can help you to answer some important questions, prepare for the reporting process and consider your options.

Describe the incident in detail
Describe what exactly happened and to whom; if you were attacked, how it happened, the nature of any injuries sustained, damage done to your property etc.; where and when the incident took place (date and time); by whom (if known); how many people were involved; what, if anything, was said by the perpetrator(s), particularly anything insulting about your skin colour, immigration status, ethnicity, nationality, religion etc.
If you think the incident had a racist motive, say it
While reporting a racist incident, it is important for you to say that you think it was motivated by racism and why. Ask for it to be recorded that way. If you have any evidence of bias or prejudice (i.e. racist language used), let the reporting body/investigators know.
Seek evidence and witnesses to the incident
If possible, obtain witness(es) contact details for future support. Look for evidence that will support your complaint, such as CCTV footage, photos of damage or injury to you or your property, written confirmation from a doctor of injuries sustained and so on.
Identify the form of racism that has taken place
Was it discrimination in employment or in access to services, which relates to equality legislation; or a racist crime which relates to criminal law; or racism online, in the media or other incident? This will determine where and how you should progress with reporting the incident.
Identify the appropriate body to seek advice and redress
For example, depending on what happened, the Gardaí, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), trade union etc. can help you bring those responsible to justice and/or help resolve your case. See Responding to Racism Guide further details.
Find out what the complaint procedure is
Many bodies require you to follow a certain complaint procedure and may require you to observe deadlines for issuing your complaint or returning certain forms etc. Make sure you are familiar with these procedures to make your complaint in time.
Seek advice
Before making a formal complaint seek advice from a lawyer or/and specialist advocacy organisation to see what your options are. 
Identify other agencies that might help you
Consider all possible avenues of redress, such as the housing management agent, the employer, a local politician or an NGO/charity/community group that specialises in advice and support.
Make an appeal
If you have been unable to sort out the problem with the body concerned or you are not happy with their decision you should be able to make an appeal i.e. to the organisation concerned, the Workplace Relations Commission, the Ombudsman or the Children Ombudsman, the Garda Ombudsman, relevant court etc.
Report the incident to iReport.ie
We encourage you to report all racist incidents to the iReport.ie online racist incident reporting system.  This helps us to keep a record of incidents of racism in Ireland, to monitor its extent and different forms, and to find solutions on local, national and international levels. Remember that unreported racism stays invisible and cannot be addressed.

Responding to Racism Blog

This blog post is part of our new Responding to Racism blog series based on the Responding to Racism Guide: How to Report Racism and Where to Find Help.  The articles collected in this blog aim to provide practical information and guidance on how to report and respond to racist incidents in Ireland. Articles range from information on why to report racism and how to do so, to information on where to report racism depending on what actually happened, to bystander intervention techniques, responding to racism in a community and supports available to victims.

The longer-term goal is to develop these articles as a part of the national one-stop-shop online resource on reporting and responding to racism, easily available to anyone affected by racism in Ireland. We hope that the provided information encourages readers to report racism and inspires them to re-think their role in addressing it.

We will be publishing blog articles once per week in March between 4th and 31st March as a part of the March: Anti-Racism Month 2020. Please refer to the date beside the article to find out its release date.