With over 15 per cent of Dublin’s population of immigrant origin and over 120 different nationalities now calling the city home, Dublin clearly embraces its multi-ethnicity. However statistics from Dublin City Council reveal that the problem of racism is very much an issue in the capital, with over 35 per cent of migrants reporting harassment on the street or on public transport and over 32 per cent of migrants questioned reporting discrimination at work. The City reporter Patrick Gormley, spoke with David O’Donovan from the ‘One City One People’ campaign and Helena Clarke from The Integration Centre to see if enough is being done to combat this growing issue.
Running throughout October the ‘One City One People’, held a number of different events across the city to promote inclusion, integration and to combat racism and discrimination, David explained his role in the project. “My role is the support of the overall project from minor projects, to major conferences held as standalone Dublin City Council ventures or indeed working with national governing bodies with similar interests regarding a multi ethnic city.” He added “Every day was different, one day I could be answering emails in my office, the next day I had my shoes off and having a meeting in a mosque, some meetings had translators and also the chance to travel to different cities to compare how they do things compared to “our way” can lead to very interesting discussions.”
When asked if he thought the issue of racism was on the rise in Dublin, David surprisingly answered “In my own personal opinion the issue of racism is not getting worse, this maybe contrary to a lot of consensus out there. But if you think about it, the level of crime is pretty much the same as it ever was, but it’s the type of crime now that would be concerning. We live (and have been living) in a multi- cultural city for the best part of 30 years, it’s the current 20 something’s from all backgrounds who are streets ahead already of the “experts” yet we fail to properly acknowledge this. I believe in 15 years time, the younger kids of today won’t discriminate between the colour of one’s skin, the accent, the traditions, it will be the norm for many at that stage, but the one commonality they will have is that they are all Irish.”
However, Helena Clarke at The Integration Centre, an NGO (Non- Governmental Organisation) committed to the integration and inclusion of people from immigrant backgrounds, argues the contrary saying “racism is the type of issue that, when it is not dealt with properly, it progressively worsens. Racism in Dublin is getting worse and will continue to do so until policy makers take it seriously and legislate for racist crime.” When asked if she felt there was enough being done to highlight the issue she stated “In a word no. The Integration Centre would like to see racism legislated for. This means that racism would be made an aggravating factor in sentencing. We believe that if it was legislated for properly it would be taken more seriously as a crime.”
Both organisations believe that the continuing promotion of an anti-racism message in the city is an important statement of commitment and acknowledge some work still needs to be done. David explained “Dublin’s cultural outlook towards migrants we have found has in general been very positive, with an open acceptance and welcome for the new diversity of population as an asset for the city. A recent Euro barometer survey of attitudes to immigrants in over 70 cities ranked Dublin 18th as a city which is welcome to foreigners but needs to achieve more on integration.”