BLACK Irish people say they are fed up at integration efforts involving “dancing and cooking” and are demanding to see people like them on TV and in Government jobs.
Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland boss Mbemba Jabbi believes the African Irish community are disillusioned at the lack of representation here and is blaming the Government for “not doing anyone any favours”.
And Galway-based activist Islammiyah Saudique, inset left, raged: “I don’t think members of the African community are treated equally, and where there’s no equality you cannot talk about fairness.”
The issue of race relations — prominent following the killing of George Floyd in the United States last summer — is being discussed once again following the shooting dead of George Nkencho by gardai in Clonee, west Dublin, on December 30 last. The investigation into his death remains ongoing.
Much of the fallout since has focused on integration and whether black Irish people feel they belong.
Prominent members of the community claim institutional racism is rife here, insisting jobs are harder to come by for black people.
‘RACISM IS AN ISSUE’
Speaking to the Irish Sun, Mr Jabbi said: “The integration policy of the Government is not actually doing anyone any favours. Their policy is people will integrate without actually putting a system in place to help this process along.
“Racism is an issue in Ireland — but the most concerning element of it is that it’s actually institutional as well.
“Research carried out by UCD and other institutions in this country found that people don’t actually get jobs because of their name.
“It also found that people don’t get jobs based on the merit of their educational background — even though you might have a degree or even a higher qualification, but because it was not based in Ireland, you don’t get the job.
“So there needs to be a fairer system in place that removes these barriers.”
In the 2016 census, 57,850 people living in Ireland identified as ‘Black’ or ‘Black Irish’ with African ethnicity. This included more than 13,000 Nigerian or Irish-Nigerian, a group with a 43 per cent unemployment rate.
More than 63 per cent of 1,500 Congolese were out of work in 2016, the highest of any group.
‘PEOPLE OF COLOUR NOT REPRESENTED IN IRISH MEDIA’
Mbemba continued: “The Government’s approach is just rhetoric in terms of integration because they give huge amounts of money to organisations that have no migrants working there. There is no system to allow migrant communities to actually help and look after themselves.
“Integration is more than just throwing money at people so they can go off and do cultural events.”
He added: “Dublin Bus and the Luas have done a great job, you see people there who are African. But what about other institutions as well? What about the Department of Justice? What about the Department of Foreign Affairs? Or NGOs?”
Saudique, President of the Amdalah Africa Foundation, told the Irish Sun: “Before I moved to Ireland, I was working as a broadcaster and producer with a radio station. I was hoping I could continue practising my profession here, but I realised people of colour are not represented in Irish media.
“No representation in content, employment or decision-making. That set me back for a long time.
“I think Government or politicians can do more to help the community in term of representation.”
Saudique said she often gets asked questions such as, ‘where are you from’ and ‘would you like to go back to your country’.
She added that her main worry for the future was a continued lack of representation for her community, saying “I am concerned that my children, children of Africa, might grow up and not see themselves anywhere.
“I really want that to change.”
John Uwhumiakpor, 50, who lives in Balbriggan, also believes more can be done to help ensure greater inclusiveness of minority communities.
The social care worker, who has lived here for 15 years, said the Government has failed to put in place a proper strategy aimed at uniting everyone.
The father of six said: “The government has not really done a great deal to address the gap in terms of inclusiveness.
“We need to create an environment that has a greater sense of inclusiveness that allows communities to become one single entity, but not much has really be done to achieve that.
“There is more the government has to do. The level playing field is not really there yet, the accessibility is not there yet.”
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John, who is a member of People Before Profit, ran as a party candidate for Balbriggan in the local elections back in 2019.
He added: “There are issues with racism in Ireland. And there really needs to be a pragmatic approach to this. It needs to be acknowledged and addressed.
“We are looking for those in authority to put the right structure in place that can help produce a significant level of inclusiveness, that allows for the community to be comfortable and confident in living here.”