Northern Ireland news

Six times more racist hate crimes recorded in Northern Ireland than Republic

A Kuwaiti family's car burnt out in a hate attack at Ulsterville Avenue, Belfast, in 2014. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
Ed Carty, Press Association

RACIST hate incidents are recorded almost six times more often in Northern Ireland than in the Republic, official figures suggest.

However, experts have warned that incidents in the south could be under-represented as a fifth of all crime is not added to the Garda's computer database.

Hate crimes in the Republic are being reported at a rate of almost one every day, according to the latest figures.

Some 151 aggravated incidents were recorded by gardaí in the first six months of this year – a near doubling of the numbers previously logged.

The number of racist incidents or those motivated because of someone's ethnic background or religion soared to 98 in the first six months of this year.

Gardaí recorded 119 racially aggravated incidents for the whole of last year, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said.

Based on the patterns in the records, there are almost six times fewer racist hate incidents in the Republic than in Northern Ireland.

On alleged offences linked to ageism and abuse of people with disabilities, the CSO said there were 27 in the year to the end of June, compared to 15 for the whole of last year.

On records of incidents said to be motivated by gender, transphobia or homophobia, there were 26 in the first six months of this year compared to 25 for the whole of last year.

Jennifer Schweppe, law lecturer at the University of Limerick, said the increased levels of reporting and recording is welcome.

"We do know that the real figures are a lot higher than what is being recorded," she said.

"What is to be welcomed is the expansion of the categories of hate crime which are being recorded. We can see anti-disability incidents and transphobia are an issue that we were relatively blind to before."

The huge increases in recorded hate crimes coincides with changes to the Pulse database late last year with new categories for motivations – sectarianism, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, incidents targeting travellers, Roma, Muslims, people with disabilities and gender-related offences.

Previously, gardaí could only use four classifications – racism, homophobia, xenophobia and anti-Semitism – with total records averaging at 142 incidents a year.

Shane O'Curry, director of European Network Against Racism – Ireland, which has recorded roughly twice as many incidents on its hotline than were logged by gardaí, said adding new categories to the Pulse database is not enough.

"More needs to be done to instil confidence in ethnic minority communities in An Garda Síochána."

The Central Statistics Office (CSO), which cautions that almost a fifth of all reported crime is not recorded on Pulse, declined to give data on the exact number of incidents recorded under each of the 11 categories.

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