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In Ireland, one in every five international students has encountered racism

Two out of every five international students studying in Ireland have encountered or witnessed racism, with the majority of incidents going unreported.

Racism, according to the Irish Council for Foreign Students (ICOS), is a serious concern for international students and academics studying and working in Ireland.

ICOS executive director Laura Harmon expressed “great worry” over the statistics, which are based on her organization’s own research.

760 foreign students from 75 countries took part in the ICOS study, which included an online poll in several languages and two focus groups. 58% of poll respondents said they were students at an Irish higher education institution (HEI). The remaining 42% were English-language pupils. Overall, 40% of respondents reported encountering racism here, but just 5% reported it to the Gardaí.

Ms. Harmon, speaking at the organization’s “Speak Out Against Racism” conference on Thursday, called for the government to prioritise the national action plan against racism, as well as “more supports for colleges to develop strategies, training, and clear reporting procedures for those who experience racism.”

ICOS held the event to commemorate International Students’ Day, which featured speakers from academia and civil society organisations.

Dr. Amanullah De Sondy, a UCC lecturer who led the meeting, stated that the voices of individuals who have faced racism and prejudice in this country must be heard. “We must enhance this relationship by listening to marginalised minority perspectives and strengthening our institutional frameworks so that minorities feel secure and powerful,” he stated.

International human rights lawyer and Irish Network Against Racism policy lead, Patricia Munatsi, says minorities face prejudice in all aspects of their lives. 

“Now is the moment to take action against racism in its violent manifestations, discriminatory patterns, and systemic origins.” She stated.

Ms. Munatsi stated that the government must “stand up and show leadership” to address the situation.

“Hate crime legislation is urgently needed so that all minorities may feel safe,” she continued. “At the same time, we require a comprehensive national action plan against racism in all parts of Irish society in order to combat racism systemically.”

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