By Jane Carter
Since Britain voted to leave the European Union there has been much talk of an increase in racism and hate crimes against immigrants in the UK. Here we talk to two women who have suffered prejudice in London and Dublin based on being Irish and British.
Only days after Brexit, there was a spike in the reports of race hate crimes across the UK.
In the two weeks after the vote, British Transport police (BTP) recorded 119 incidents including allegations of racist abuse and attacks at stations – the equivalent to eight a day.
Alleged race hate offences logged by the force between 24 June and 7 July saw a 57% increase on the previous two weeks, and an even sharper climb of 78% on the same period in 2015.
Anti-racism groups have said the trend is a “worrying” one and they are a sample of the xenophobia that seems to be on the rise across the UK since the vote to leave the EU.
A woman from Dublin, in her 30s, who did not wish to be identified has told her story, of an incident on a tube when she was suddenly reminded she was an outsider.
“Basically, it was the Friday after Brexit. I got on the Victoria Line and it was packed, as always. A woman wouldn’t move her shopping bag out of the way, so I had to skirt around her bags.
“Next another woman behind me started saying: ‘How rude.’
“And the man next to us said it wasn’t my fault but she wouldn’t stop calling me rude, so I told her to get lost.
“She then said ‘Oh, Irish are you?’
“That explains it.’
“I asked her was she then going to ask me to go home. It was really upsetting. I had had xenophobic comments before because of my accent but they were in jest.
“This woman felt she had the right to put me down publicly for being foreign in front of the whole carriage.
“That entire week after Brexit was strange. Pre-Brexit comments like: ‘Do you shop in Irish shops? ‘ or ‘What’s your favourite potato product?’ are sort of laughable, but that lady felt entitled to threaten me because of my accent.
“It was the tone of it that week, it was if I was suddenly unacceptable.”
A Londoner living in Dublin in her 30s said she has experienced xenophobia in the Irish capital too but this is something she feels is historic and perhaps nothing to do with Brexit.
“I have lived in Ireland a few years now and I love it. I love the people and the more relaxed culture. It is way more relaxed than London and that’s only a good thing if you ask me.
“However, not everyone has welcomed me unfortunately. Most of the abuse I’ve received has been at night in bars.
“I’ve been the butt of jokes because of my accent, which I can accept is meant to be a bit of fun – but sometimes it really bloody irritates me.
“But when I’ve been referred to as a “Brit,” or “The Brit,” it is bordering on offensive and out at night I have had some terrible things said to me.
“I was called a British bitch, scum, blamed for England’s past when my heritage is Irish, and much worse.
“I’ve been told to go home, asked am I a Prod and even once, and this has to be one of the worst – I was told to ‘go hang yourself,’
“I’ve had comments made to me before and after Brexit and at this point I have accepted it will happen every now and then.
“I think it’s ugly and ignorant and I’m sad to hear it’s now happening to Irish people in the UK because the UK had accepted everyone and we had become so multi-cultural.
“I feel that ignorance is everywhere and we should each try to stamp it out by standing up for anyone who is being picked on, whatever their race or religion, or if they are English in Ireland or Irish in England.
“It’s the only way to win really.”
Ireland Today would like to state we are an all inclusive website – that welcomes all ethnicities, religions, sexualities and we don’t care if you’re English, Irish, or from Timbuktu because as far as we can see, we are all human and just trying to get by.