By Harry Keaney
THERE HAS been “an alarming” increase in reported incidents of racism in Sligo.
A new reporting service was set up earlier this year.
Two incidents were reported in June, four in July.
And up to August 22nd, nine incidents were recorded.
These included alleged assault, refusal to access services, discrimination, verbal abuse and refusal to provide accommodation.
Service manager Deo Ladislas Ndakengerwa said: “It’s worrying and alarming to see an increase of this size in a small city like Sligo.”
“There are far more incidents that people wouldn’t report because of a culture of tolerating and accepting what people regard as minor incidents.
“But every big crime in history started as a small incident.”
Deo explained there were two types of racist incidents.
He said: “There is institutional racism.
“This is where institutions are discriminating against ethnic groups.”
“For example, a person might be living 10 years in Ireland and hold an Irish passport but be told they are Irish on paper only.
“This affects integration because they are not see as equal members of the Sligo community.
“It’s something that needs to be dealt with because it’s against the Irish constitution.
“Once somebody pledges allegiance to the Irish flag, he or she is automatically as Irish as anyone born here.”
Racisim in the community involves people being harassed by neighbours and made “scapegoats for the economic downturn.”
“People are told if they were not here, someone else would have a job,” Deo explained.
But, he added: “These people are working 12 to 15 hours for minimum wages to make ends meet.
“And they may be doing a job an Irish person would not do.
“They should be seen as a contributor to society.”
However, Deo said: “The majority of Sligo people are nice.
“But it only takes one nasty person to give a bad image to the city.”
He was also full of praise for the local gardai. “They are very committed to stamping out racism.”