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Death of a Dream as Racism Rears Its Head in Ireland

Death of a Dream as Racism Rears Its Head in Ireland

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Published by bgeller4936
Ireland, racism, discrimination
Ireland, racism, discrimination

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Published by: bgeller4936 on Apr 11, 2010
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04/11/2010

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10-04-11 8:43 AMPrinter FriendlyPage 1 of 4http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article7094192.ece?print=yes&randnum=1270993365547
April 11, 2010
Death of a dream as racism rears its head inIreland
(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)
Tunde Shittabey at the funeral of his older brother Toyosi who wasstabbed in Tyrrelstown last FridayJustine McCarthy
The estate agent’s brochure for the final phase of houses in Tyrrelstown extols it as “A World Apart — witheverything in its place”. The reality appears not to contradict the sales pitch.On a hazy April Friday, only intermittent birdsong intrudes on the silence. The cream-brick houses are tidily laidout in a giant horseshoe, their colourful front doors and daffodils beside the cycle path lending an ambience of light-heartedness.That stops abruptly when you reach the place on the footpath where a knife was plunged into Toyosi Shitta-bey’sheart on Good Friday. Flowers and tea lights, rosary beads and cards, clothing and candles constitute a still-rawshrine on the day after his funeral. “Rest in Peace Toy” is written on a white T-shirt. “Love You Angel”, saysanother. “You’ll be forever in our hearts”.Uppermost on the lamppost, somebody has strapped on a Shelbourne Football Club jacket. It might even havebelonged to the 15-year-old Junior Cert student who came to Ireland from Nigeria when he was four anddreamed of World Cup glory with his adopted country. Neighbours who never met him talk wondrously of hiscollection of sports plaques and medals displayed in the house when they visited his family to pay their respects.As he ambled home from the National Aquatic Centre with four friends at about 7pm on Good Friday, the quiethouses must have been reassuring in their familiarity. But after an altercation allegedly involving racist taunts frompassersby, Toyosi was stabbed in the heart and died at the scene.“Kill Racism For Toy” urges a T-shirt strapped to the bottom of the lamppost. Amid the grief, shock, fear andbewilderment overlaying Tyrrelstown, a sliver of optimism shines through. There is pride in the young people whohave shown solidarity in their loss. Parents and community leaders say how they admire Toy’s friends and peersfor their restraint.This is one of the most racially mixed places in Ireland. There are 82,278 Africans and Asians living in thecountry, according to the 2006 census, but their presence is scarcely as visible anywhere else as in Tyrrelstown.At the bus stop and in the shops in the town centre, there is a babel of tongues from Africa, Russia, Turkey, 
FromThe Sunday Times
 
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China, Romania, Lithuania and Poland. In the local school, one in every five of the 1,100 students was bornabroad.It’s Ireland’s melting pot and it has been chugging along relatively fine, despite the state’s lukewarm cead milefailte. Until Toyosi died, it had escaped the sort of race-hate crimes that have occasionally flared up in other neighbourhoods, such as nearby Clondalkin, where a member of the Sikh community was recently assaulted.Now that two men from outside the neighbourhood — from Dublin 2 and Dublin 4 — have been charged inconnection with the killing, fears have been raised about the danger lurking outside rather than the danger within.“I’ve never had any trouble on this route,” confirms the driver of Dublin Bus’s number 40D to Tyrrelstown, “and Iget people from all over the world. I have noticed, though, that the bus used to be full leaving here in the morningrush-hour and now it’s only half full. I think a lot of people have lost jobs and some have probably left.Nationwide, reported incidents of racism grew steadily during the years of prosperity, rising from 66 in 2004 to180 in 2007 and 185 in 2008. However, the reported total dropped to 126 last year.“Some people say things like ‘you f****** black ass, go back to your own country’ but that’s usually in the citycentre and we ignore them,” said Prisca, a Tyrrelstown resident originally from Lagos. “A lot of the Irish havebeen fantastic. They went to the [Toyosi] burial. They went to his house to sympathise. We see them puttingflowers where he was attacked.”Her husband, Stanley, agrees but admits that he now worries about his family’s safety. “I don’t think Irish peopleare racist. I wouldn’t be here if I did,” he said. “But after this, I don’t know what to think any more. We need toknow why it happened. Was it racist? Was it spontaneous? Was it planned? Will there be attacks on everyimmigrant?”Though one of his children was born before the citizenship referendum in June 2004, a deportation order hasbeen issued against Stanley and he fears being separated from his family.“The government doesn’t want us here and that attitude will run into people’s beliefs,” he said. “There has to beproper integration from the top. It’s about the children now. They’re the future.”Kensika Monshengwo, an intercultural counsellor from the Democratic Republic of Congo, agrees.“I came to Ireland in 1998. I’d lived in Belgium, Canada and the US before that. There were very few blackpeople in Ireland then. We weren’t seen as a threat,” he said. “People were very welcoming. They would evenblow kisses to you in the street. Then the economy took up and the media started using words like ‘influx’ andsaying the maternity hospitals were being ‘flooded’ with immigrants.“Ireland had a good reputation for human rights because of people like Mary Robinson, and it still has, but anytime there’s a recession people go back to the old instincts.“They have to find somebody to blame for their problems.“I’m worried that people will go back into their own communities, play safe, and not mix with other teenagers.There’s a danger of creating ghettos. The young people of Tyrrelstown have got together and that’s a positivesign but the government doesn’t have any programme to promote that sort of integration and you can’t just hope itwill happen organically.”Monshengwo worked for the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) until it wasclosed down in December 2008 because of the government’s budget cutbacks. As a result, there is a dearth of reliable data on racism.“The reported statistics show that incidents of racism fell to 126 last year but I believe there is significant under-reporting,” said Philip Watt, the former director of NCCRI. “A lot of people would have reported things to us thatthey wouldn’t have told gardai, because there’s significant distrust between many new communities in Ireland andthe gardai, not because of direct contact but because of their experiences of the police forces in their owncountries.“Assaults tend to be opportunistic. Vulnerable people, younger people and women are picked on. That’s a feature 
 
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of racist assaults. Also, research has been done in other countries showing that in times of economic recession,racism increases and this is the first recession Ireland’s had since the dramatic increase in diversity that coincidedwith the Celtic tiger. Yet it’s the very time that the government has cut back on the monitoring of racist incidentsoutside of the gardai.“There’s no research being done but there are growing issues about the clustering of communities. We’re back ina reactive mode and there’s a lot of wringing of hands but no data is being collected so we don’t know if ToyosiShitta-bey’s killing is a one-off event or not. The government’s mindset is that the numbers [of immigrants] havedecreased so it’s no longer a public policy priority. But Ireland will remain a multicultural society now. It’s changedfor good.”TYRRELSTOWN is not nirvana. Located in the greater Blanchardstown area, about 15 kilometres from O’ConnellStreet, it is a monument to the high-density planning splurge of the boom years, which was decried by localcouncillor Ruth Coppinger when she called it “the Celtic tiger on steroids”.Huge numbers of houses costing around
 €
230,000 were bought by investors and are let to tenants for about
 €
1,000 a month. It is well maintained and there is a palpable pride of place. There is a Lidl and a Superquinn, abeauty salon, a solicitor’s office, a bookies, a pub, restaurant, chemist, newsagent, interiors shop and twoauctioneers.But aircraft climbing into the sky from the airport 10 minutes’ drive away drone overhead and there is no library.In shop windows, posters featuring Toyosi called his neighbours to yesterday’s march from the Garden of Remembrance to Leinster House, organised by the Toyosi Memorial Committee. Under the aspiration “never again”, it outlines the ambition to “ensure that this tragedy is turned to good by mobilising all ethnic groups towork together for a better society for us and for our children”.Ruth Lynch, the manager of the local pharmacy, says customers have been telling her they planned to attend themarch to show their solidarity. “Irish people are very embarrassed,” she said. “They don’t want to be associatedwith this. People are shocked. This never happened here before. “The poster sums up how people are feelingwhen it says ‘never again’. That’s what everyone’s hoping. Never, ever again.”
The ugly face of racism in IrelandZhao Liu Tao
, 29, a Chinese student, was the victim of the first recorded race-hatred killing in Ireland. He diedin Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, three days after being hit with a metal bar in January 2001. He had been subjectedto racist taunts by five youths aged 14 to 18 who had been drinking on waste ground in the Beaumont area. An18-year-old male was sentenced to four years’ detention, including two years suspended.
Leong Ly Min
, 50, a Vietnamese proprietor of the Phoenix Dragon takeaway in Tallaght, died in St James’sHospital, Dublin, in August 2002 after he was assulted in the Temple Bar area of Dublin city and left in a coma.His two assailants had shouted racist abuse during the attack.
Lila Dorgan
, a French woman of Moroccan extraction, was assaulted outside her home in Cork city by twowomen shouting racist abuse. She was hospitalised for two weeks, suffers from anxiety, depression and epilepsyand will never have children as a result of the attack. She returned to France. The two women were eachsentenced in 2002 to three years in jail for the attack.
David Richardson
was on holidays with his wife when the Londoners were subjected to racist abuse andphysically attacked in Pearse Street, Dublin. He underwent protracted surgery and suffered serious blood loss.Describing it as “an extremely serious incident”, a judge sentenced a 21-year-old man from the inner city toseven-and-a-half years in jail. Other youths involved in the attack in 2000 were the first people to be convictedunder the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act since it was enacted in 1989.
A 12-year-old boy
was called a “black bastard” by a school bus driver in September 2002 in County Louth. Thedriver was fined
 €
300 and bound to the peace on being found guilty under the Prohibition of Incitement to HatredAct.
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