Northern Ireland’s passive response to racist attacks…

Chris Gilligan in Spiked! has picks up on the proposition on Slugger yesterday that we may be seeing sectarianism mutate into open racism… and looks at the hard numbers, and finds that in actual fact the number of racist incidents relative to the numbers of in-migrating populations has actually dropped:

There has been an increase in minority immigrants in Northern Ireland from 534 in 2000-01 to 12,255 in 2005-06. My graph below plots the two sets of figures: for recorded racist incidents (blue line) and for number of immigrants (pink line). It shows that the absolute number of racial incidents has increased year on year, as indicated by the rising blue line; but it also shows that the number of racist incidents relative to the number of new immigrants has actually decreased. In other words, an immigrant was far less likely to be on the receiving end of a racist incident in 2005-06 than he was in 2000-01, even though there were more incidents in 2005-06.

That will be of no comfort to the Roma victims, but he goes on to pick up a few other aspects of the problem, not least the defensive (community safety) nature of the police’s response:

A number of local anti-racists have, quite rightly, pointed out that if the Romanians leave Northern Ireland as a result of the attacks (an option which seems increasingly likely since their evacuation), then this will send a message to racists that their intimidation works. The police, however, seem to view the whole incident in the managerial terms of ‘community safety’ and as a useful PR exercise, ensuring that there were numerous cameraman ready to capture scenes of the evacuation and interview the Romanians when they were in police safety.

That’s a well oiled reflex, backed by mechanisms administered by the Housing Executive for parcelling victims of paramilitary violence, quickly and seamless out of areas dominated by one particular organisation and (often) into other estates controlled by their paramilitary rivals… It’s a short term tactic that has the positive short term outcome of getting the victim out of harm’s way, but it’s also a tacit admission that the functions of a democratic state are failing whole communities on the ground.

And in the process cedes a degenerate form of droit de seigneur to certain paramilitaries over whole communities…

  • Little Adams

    Things are not so black and white. The crackers probably have homes back in Roma land as did the flotsam who squatted on the Dublin motorway (another international story – the Romanian ambassador had to xpose those rogues). They are scammers and are being helped by local scammers masquerading as rights activists. Not everyone cna get in on the chopper scam.

    [Text removed – grown up conversation, please? – mods]

    Given the rise of the BNP/DUUP and that 4 out of 5 jobs are taken by immigrants in the self styled UK, we can expect a lot more of this stuff.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    This is a lot of balls. Sectarianism hasn’t mutated into racism, sectarianism is still alive and well, Racism is just another problem to deal with.

    It pains me to see these statists pick and choose through the evidence so their journalistist piece agrees with the main-stream journalist idea that racism is now the new sectarianism.

    Its lies.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    There are quite a few people on slugger who recognise that our society has sectarian problems and we don’t need more division in the form of racism. John East Belfast posted a very inspirational post which highlighted our own problem and if we mask it with this racist stuff, who knows what will happen.

  • Driftwood

    Chris Gilligan should know his old mucker on this issue:

  • Swerve

    This paragraph from the article is nonsense on stilts,

    “Another problem with the focus on thugs’ race hate is that it overlooks the role of state policies and institutions in contributing to the problems in the first place. No one has stopped to ask why so many families were crammed into such limited accommodation in the first place. A large number of the 115 Romanians lived in just three houses in the local area. One of the reasons why there is so much overcrowding in Romanian immigrant communities is because the UK has placed restrictions on migrants from Romania (and Bulgaria), limiting their ability to stay and work legitimately in Britain in comparison with other Eastern European migrants, such as Poles. In addition, Northern Ireland has been hit by the recession, unemployment is rising, and jobs are increasingly difficult to come by, all of which means that many of the Romanians affected by the attacks had already been reduced to begging on the streets because they are not eligible for benefits.”

  • you know

    On the Nolan show this morning, I heard them say that they phoned govt agencies to ask how many Roma were in the country and they were told by the agencies that they didn’t know, so how come spiked can come up with figures, and how accurate are they?

  • Freud Ian


    would give you how many were in each house.

  • riffin on romanians

    Wrong. There is no mutation of sectarianism. It is quite possible and indeed quite probable that the people with racist views are also sectarian. And if you need evidence just have a look at the bigotry and racism so obviously paraded on the threads of this site by your “community”. It took til Tuesday night to even get a thread up and running on the issue.

  • puca

    “The crackers probably have homes back in Roma land”.

    Crackers refers to white racists and is a term of abuse often used by American blacks. You need to get your racist argot straight, cracker.

  • Mayoman

    “for recorded racist incidents (blue line) and for number of immigrants (pink line). It shows that the absolute number of racial incidents has increased year on year, as indicated by the rising blue line; but it also shows that the number of racist incidents relative to the number of new immigrants has actually decreased.”

    Does this not assume that the number of racist scum in a society is a function of the number of immigrants? Surely there will be a plateau as even racist scum will only have a certain capacity to carry out a certain number of attacks. The thinking behind this analysis is worrying as it assumes that normal decent people must ‘mutate’ into racist scum as more immigrants arrive. Or is the presumption that NI contains such a degree of latent racism that one day, if there are enough immigrants, everyone ‘native’ to NI will be throwing bricks through immigrants’ windows? I would have thought that non-proportionality of attacks would be more the mark of normal scoiety (mmmm, normal…..).

  • Some translations of coverage of the attacks across Europe available here.

    I hope Slugger doesn’t mind the linking,I’ll learn how to hyperlink properly one of these days…

  • danielmoran

    Riffin on romanians… msg 8
    it’s been my contention the sectarianism is nothing more than a pale substitute for racism, especially in a place like n.i. where, due to the troubles foreigners[black asian or other] were disinclined to come here. So, lacking targets, those so inclined comfortably eased in the attitude of attacking others for their religion.
    it’s no more complicated than that. n.i. is an artificial entity which has always depended for it’s existence on electoral abuse. without gerrymandering, it wouldn’t have survived the 1950s as demographic changes would have killed it off around that time. So n.i. is a perfect breeding ground for sectarianism/racism.

  • Droit de seigneur (French pronunciation: “the lord’s right”) is a term now popularly used to describe an alleged legal right allowing the lord of an estate to take the virginity of the estate’s virgins.

    Is this what you meant, Mick?

  • Framer

    Two days after the demo the police arrived at my door with a questionnaire about racism and the attacks asking DOB etc.

    I declined to assist.

    They increasingly think they are a form of social worker or sociologist.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    The rest of the world thinks the Irish carried out these racist attacks, as they don’t know any better. Irish loyalists, Nationalist, Republicans? It makes no difference to the rest of the world, they’ve been told everyone on the island is Irish.

    Irish unity delima

  • IJP


    Well said.

    Sectarian attacks and murders remain an alarmingly common feature of contemporary NI. Just because the politicians did a deal doesn’t mean attitudes suddenly “mutated”.

    As I’ve written elsewhere, what was actually “racist” about these attacks? Had the victims been white (but also foreign and living 20-to-a-household), would they have been safe?

    Randomly pointing the “racist” finger is a good way for the commentariat to feel good about itself, and not have to delve too deeply into the real problems that most of us are frankly happy to ignore.

  • IJP

    (I was responding to post 2 in my post 19 above.)

  • Ulsters my homeland

    what’s you opinion on post 15? Irish dilemma or not?