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North has 'huge racism problem'

Almost half of those surveys said the north was more racially prejudiced now than five years ago

MORE than half of people in Northern Ireland would not willingly accept a Muslim as a relative through marriage, a new survey has found.

Around 50 per cent would also not accept a Muslim or an Irish Traveller as a friend, according to figures on public attitudes.

Amnesty International said the findings from the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey revealed the extent of racial prejudice in the north.

Close to half of those surveyed (49 per cent) said there was generally more prejudice in Northern Ireland now than five years ago.

Only 13 per cent said there was less.

Almost half of those surveys said the north was more racially prejudiced now than five years ago

People were asked about their attitudes to eastern Europeans, Muslims, Irish Travellers and other ethnic minority groups.

The findings showed more tolerance of those from eastern Europe, with 84 per cent saying they would accept them as a resident in their local areas - compared to 71 per cent for Muslims and 62 per cent for Travellers.

Other statistics revealed that:

  • 47 per cent of people would not willingly accept a Muslim as a close friend
  • 25 per cent would not willingly accept someone from an ethnic minority as a colleague at work
  • 56 per cent would not accept a Traveller as a relative through marriage, while 52 per cent would not accept a Muslim

Amnesty International said the findings showed that Northern Ireland had a huge problem with racism.

52 per cent said they would not accept a Muslim as a relative through marriage

Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said the levels of racial prejudice should serve as a wake-up call to politicians and officials.

"The fact that still in 2018 over half of the population would not willingly accept a Muslim or an Irish Traveller as a relative through marriage, or that a quarter of people would not willingly accept someone from an ethnic minority as a work colleague, should shock us to our core," he said.

"These figures demonstrate that government in Northern Ireland is utterly failing to tackle the deep-rooted racial prejudice which affects too many people here.

Politicians and officials need to wake up to this prejudice, which makes Northern Ireland a toxic place to live for too many people from minority ethnic and religious communities.

We need a much more ambitious and joined-up strategy to tackle racial prejudice. That must include bringing our race equality laws into line with the rest of the UK, where Northern Ireland has fallen behind, and an improvement on prosecution and conviction rates for those responsible for race hate crimes."

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