Anti-racist and refugee groups in Dublin have begun monitoring race attacks in the city, in order to establish if they are the work of an organised, or a nascent racist grouping.
Concerned at the rise in the number of such attacks in recent months, Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) and the African Refugee Network (ARN) have begun logging and compiling all such incidents with a view to publishing a report in the near future.
Another organisation, the Association of Refugees and Asylum-Seekers in Ireland (ARASI) has also been monitoring racial assaults in the city. According to ARASI spokesman Mohamed Haji, the organisation has logged 14 such attacks around Dublin, over the last three months (March-May) alone.
These include a vicious attack on a 17-year old youth from the Congo in April, on Dublin's Lower Liffey Street. He was assaulted by between seven and eight men, and required 17 stitches to a head wound.
In another incident, a female refugee from Angola was attacked outside the Coombe Hospital. She was six months pregnant. Previously, on Easter Sunday a young man from Sierra Leone was attacked by three men near his home in Dublin's Rialto. David McCarthy has worked for aid agency Concern, on a voluntary basis.
According to Mohamed Haji, the logging of all such incidents has been made necessary both because of their frequency and the fact that “most refugees will say nothing. They are afraid of their names appearing in the papers.”
He called on the Gardai to begin recording racial attacks as such, rather than as simple assaults. At present the Gardai do not operate a separate category for racial assaults.
Curiously, a Garda spokeswoman claimed the failure to do so was because such attacks were “few and far between”. In reference to the 14 assaults logged by ARASI, the spokeswoman said there is “a difference between allegations (of assault) and prosecutions”.
Yet, in April, Gardai advised refugees and asylum-seekers to avoid going out at night in certain parts of the city. The Irish Times confirmed gardai in a south-inner city station had issued the advice “in response to a rise in racist attacks in the area”.
Brian O'Reilly of Anti-Fascist Action queries the official advice:
“Are they saying they haven't got the resources to protect refugees? Can you imagine the uproar if they warned women or old people to stay in at night?”
O'Reilly's organisation is currently preparing a dossier on racial assaults around Dublin, in conjunction with the African Refugee Network. This is in order to “ascertain the true level of attacks and establish is there is any pattern”. The two groups intend to make the dossier public as soon as it is completed.
Specifically, O'Reilly says this would help “determine if there was any organised group behind recent attacks, or if any areas of the city were particularly affected”. At present, he says, such reports are coming from all areas of Dublin, with the incidence of verbal abuse “a daily occurrence”.
Although he believes there is as yet no evidence of the existence of a formal racist or fascist grouping, the frequency of racial attacks would tend to suggest there are a number of “persistent offenders”.
Racist graffiti and crude leaflets have appeared in areas such as Stoneybatter, Smithfield, Phibsboro and Rialto. Some literature has borne the name of known far-right organisations, such as the World Church of the Creator—a white supremacist body based in the United States. However, it is amateurish and appears homemade.
Equally, graffiti that has appeared and re-appeared in certain areas of the city has, he says, “clearly been written by the same one, or two people”.