Gardai recording specific crimes of hate and racism welcomed
Ethnic minority campaign groups have welcomed changes which enable gardai to record specific crimes of hate and racism for the first time.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the move sent out a strong message that complaints would be taken seriously and would be investigated.
Brian Killoran, chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: "The decision to allow gardai across the country to log crimes as acts of hatred and racism not only brings the gardai into line with the PSNI and other European police forces but also tells victims that they do not have to suffer in silence.
"The message is going out loud and clear that no-one should have to fear a brick through their bedroom window, abuse when going to the local shop or discrimination of any form."
The Immigrant Council said it was aware of over 150 race hate incidents a year.
It has been involved in a lengthy campaign to reform the way the crimes were recorded - and claimed that at one stage the Police Service of Northern Ireland was logging 700% more cases than gardai.
The new changes mean the Garda Pulse system can now log crimes in categories such as racism, homophobic, anti-traveller, ageist, acts against people with disabilities, sectarian, anti Roma, Islamophobia, anti-semitic, transphobia and gender related.
Teresa Buczkowska, integration coordinator with the Immigrant Council, said: "Ending complacency is the first step and we welcome the fact that the gardai have joined us in that battle.
"The impact of the new reporting system must be kept under review in the coming months, and we would also like to see the introduction of 24/7 hotlines and other technologies to re-assure victims."