Another victim as racist and homophobic attacks grow

There seems no let up in the number of race and homophobic attacks in Northern Ireland with a Portuguese man, who was stabbed in the stomach in Dungannon, County Tyrone as he got out of a taxi, the latest victim.
There has been a huge rise in hate attacks in the North with almost 2,500 hate crimes in the last nine months of 2005.

PSNI figures show there were 697 racial incidents between April and December, 2005 compared with 624 incidents in the same period in 2004 – an 11.6% rise. Homophobic incidents climbed from 139 to 167, a 16.6% increase.

The clearance rate for racial incidents was 18%, up from 15.9%. The clearance rate for homophobic incidents was 29.4%, up from 17.3%. In comparison, between April and December 2005 there were 1,451 sectarian incidents.

This isn’t the first time Dungannon has been in the news for racist attacks. In September 2004, local traders complained that such attacks were damaging the town’s prospects.

Meanwhile, the PSNI have extended a poster campaign across the province which carries the message ‘Hate Crime is Wrong’. However, there is a worry that the police itself needs to tackle its own homophobia, following claims in a report by the Institute for Conflict Research that gay and lesbian officers have been allegedly taunted and harassed because of their sexuality, with senior male officers ignoring the abuse.

The report also found that nearly one in three (31%) members of the gay community had been the victim of a crime within the last 12 months, with more than half of those (58%) believing it was motivated by homophobia.

  • Pete Baker

    George,

    It’s important to note that it’s a rise in the reporting of those attacks to the police.. as I seem to remember the report on those figures acknowledged.

  • Pete

    Good point. It is hard to get comparable figure in order to really make prnoucements on trends. Also as more people “come out”, which amy be considered a good sign in terms of society maturing, than this increases the potential for homophobic attacks.

  • plastic paddy

    In London in the 1980’s there were an enormous amount of gay people from the North & the republic who had to ‘escape to tolerance’. I joked at the time that the only thing that had brought the communities together was the ‘Save Ulster from Sodomy!’ campaign (if that’s what it was called).

    Regarding racism, it used to be suggested by cruel english people that the only solution to irish sectarianism was to flood the island with ethnic minorities to give a bit of perspective to ‘cultural/ethnic/religious’ differences.

    In England the ruling class has finally recognised that ‘racism’ isn’t solely the province of the white male working class. In fact, the biggest problem currently is that the average balk/balt having known nothing but facism & communism for the last 6 or so decades, doesn’t do PC. They regard themselves as inately superior to anyone who isn’t white. Wait until that becomes a problem in Ireland as well

  • George

    Pete,
    I don’t believe that greater reporting means there hasn’t been a very significant rise in racist attacks in recent years in Northern Ireland.

    As for homophobic attacks, I concede that a concerted campaign in Derry may have resulted in a slight decrease in that city, but fear the rise in police figures means the situation in rural areas is getting worse.

  • Pete Baker

    George

    It’s just a matter of differentiating between what the figures actually represent.. and the subsequent interpretation of those figures – ie your belief.

    There’s a case to say that the figures show improved police performance since the figures also show substantial increases in the clearance rates by the police for those crimes.

  • George

    Pete,
    it can be argued that the inexorable rise in the numbers of attacks being reported to the police is down to more reporting of the crime, but it can equally be argued that more people are reporting racist and homophobic attacks because of the simple fact that more are occurring.

    For the sake of complete accuracy, I should have written “Evidence suggests there has been a huge rise in hate attacks in the North with almost 2,500 hate crimes registered by the police in the last nine months of 2005”.

  • lah dee dah

    I have no issue at all with immigrants, they’ll do no harm at all, but increased immigration also affects any stats with the increased number of potential “targets” year on year. It’s gonna get worse before it gets better?

  • What exactly is the evidence that this attack is racist?

    Because the victim is an ethnic minority is it automatically racist?

    There are an incredible amount of social and cultural schisms between the Portugese community and the Protestant/Catholic communities in Dungannon and area. But thats what root causes are- social and cultural schisms, not race.

    No doubt i will be labeled a racist for daring to say such a thing.

  • plastic paddy

    Not sure about PSNI policy but UK Metropolitan Police (and probably other GB forces)were recording ANY incident as racist if the victim regards it as so. To be realistic this has meant that attacks on white english people have been recorded as racist as well.

    Obviously I have no idea what impact the Steven Lawrence murder had over here, but in London specifically, and England generally, policing and the justice system was shaken to its core. However, since the 7th July bombings and the abortive later one, it has now become acceptable to ask questions which one could not ask before.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I unequivocally condemn all racially-motivated attacks. Dungannon has a sizeable Portuguese community, about a quarter of the population of the town if I’m remembering correctly, and these men, women and children are just as much a part of society in Dungannon as people who have lived in the town all their lives.

    I would support a cap on immigration, but CONTROLLED immigration can only be a benefit to our country. Immigrants will increase diversity, promote the image of metropolitan Ulster towns/cities and most importantly, bring new and varied skills to our shores…to the dregs of society that carried out this attack – crawl back into the hole you came out of.