Reporting Racism

Tue, August 14, 2012

As highlighted in the Cork News recently, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of racist incidents reported to us. These incidents range in severity from verbal abuse to violent physical assault but share the common characteristic of creating a feeling of rejection and distress in their victims. Another common response is a feeling of frustration and disempowerment – many of those who experience or witness racism feel that there is nothing that they can do about it.

Rest assured, however, there is something you can do. Anyone who experiences or witnesses a racist incident can report this to us in complete confidence. We will then help you to determine whether an offence has been committed and should you decide to proceed, will assist in reporting the matter to the Gardaí. To make a report or for further information, please call us on 021-4317411, visit our website: www.nascireland.org or email reportracism@nascireland.org.

Racism in the News
A large number of high-profile racist incidents, particularly in the sporting world, have received both national and international media attention in recent times: the criminal investigation of English football captain John Terry for alleged racist abuse of team-mate Anton Ferdinand (although he was cleared of criminal charges, the FA investigation is ongoing) and the Suarez-Evra saga in the UK; the expulsion of a Greek athlete from her Olympic team for a racist tweet, as well as closer to home, the racist abuse of GAA star Lee Chin in Wexford, the alleged banana-throwing incident at Thomond Park and most recently, allegations of referee-racism, once again involving the Wexford GAA.

While racism in any form and at any time deserves nothing less than the most unreserved censure, the recent comment of Judge Devins deserves to be singled out on a number of grounds: her sweeping disparagement of an entire group of people, her high-profile position and the fact that she was speaking in her capacity as a judge in court rather than simply as an individual. That Judge Devins, in the aftermath of the universal condemnation which followed, finally (on her second attempt) managed to offer an unreserved apology to the Polish community does nothing to diminish the gravity of her offence.

Below is Nasc Legal Officer Claire Cumiskey’s response to Judge Devins’ comments:

We were alarmed to hear Judge Devins’ clearly racist and inflammatory comments describing social welfare as a “Polish charity”.

While racist and xenophobic speech is always disturbing, Judge Devins’ high profile position in one of the highest offices of the country makes this all the more concerning. The position of a judge demands integrity and fairness – not only because of their ability to make decisions which directly impact on the course of people’s lives – but also because of their power to influence opinion. In this regard, Judge Devins’ comments and initial failure to offer an adequate apology deserve unequivocal censure.

We at Nasc have long campaigned for a change in Irish criminal law to allow for specific recognition of racist offences. We have been working with the Cork Community Gardaí since mid-2011 on a pilot racist incident reporting mechanism. We believe that racist incidents in Ireland continue to be under-reported and are actively working with the Gardaí to counter this.

Claire Cumiskey, Nasc Legal Information Officer.

See below for full coverage in the Cork News:

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