Northern Ireland news

Racist hate incidents outnumber sectarian hate incidents in Northern Ireland

A display at Ormeau Park in south Belfast in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

LOW conviction rates for racist hate crimes show that more effort is needed to tackle the problem, an MLA has said.

Racist hate incidents in Northern Ireland have outnumbered sectarian hate incidents for the past four years, police figures show.

There have been almost 3,500 race hate crimes reported to police in the past five years, but just 363 court convictions.

SDLP policing spokesperson Dolores Kelly obtained the conviction figures in response to an assembly question.

They show cases from 2015 to 2019 that resulted in conviction at court where race was recorded as a motivating factor.

Ms Kelly, an MLA for Upper Bann, called for a review of the Stormont's racial equality strategy.

"The Black Lives Matter movement has shone a light on systemic discrimination against black and minority ethnic communities across the world. But it is not just something that happens elsewhere – we have a deep rooted problem with discrimination and racist hate here that needs to be addressed," she said.

"Since 2014 there have been more than 1,000 racist hate incidents reported to police every year. And yet annually there are less than 100 cases that result in conviction.

"We absolutely need to do more to assure people from black and minority ethnic communities that they will be protected and those who commit serious crimes against them will be brought to justice.

"I will be raising the matter with the police service but ending systemic discrimination also requires the effort of government. That's why it's important that we see a review and update to the racial equality strategy as a matter of urgency."

Read more: Gang attacks man in his bed in 'vicious' racist attack in Dungiven

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