28 May 1998 Edition

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Racist attacks in Swords

By Michael Pierse

A young couple and their children have been victims of an onslaught of racist attacks and intimidation in the Dublin suburb of Swords.

Chua and Gearóid Grace have seen first hand the ugly face of racism in the past two-and-a-half years. Chua is from Vietnam and has been living in Ireland since 1979. The couple married in 1991 and soon settled down in a quiet cul-de-sac in Swords, where they are now rearing their three children.

The field opposite the side of the house is a regular haunt for teenagers of the area, who consume alcohol there at weekends. ``It all started when someone threw a brick through the kitchen window,'' said Gearóid. When he confronted the individual responsible he apologised and said it was an accident. This was the only incident for about a year, until teenagers in the field began throwing eggs at the gable end of the house. This soon escalated to brick throwing which mostly occurred while Gearóid was away from home. The bathroom window of the house has been broken on various occasions and the couple's eldest son is now afraid to go into the room.

Subsequently the couple had to erect barriers on the side of the house, but the harrassment did not desist. Increasingly Chua has been subject to racist comments while walking through the village. ``She is very distressed by this harrassment,'' Gearóid said. ``The neighbours have been very good and have comforted Chua while I'm away.''

Gearóid suspects 30 to 40 youths to be involved in the attacks and he has forwarded some names to the Gardaí, who know at least one of the youths as being involved in other anti-social behaviour on an ongoing basis. However, they have advised him that they cannot help unless he ``catches them in the act.''

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Gearóid said that he, Chua and her brother approached the ringleader of the youths and asked him to stop the attacks. This has been met with an indifferent continuation, if not increase, in the racist activities of the youths, whom he says are in their mid-to-late teens.

Gearóid pointed out a dent on the bathroom wall caused by a brick that was fired through the window. The danger to his children is obvious. The benevolent and patient man seemed to be running out of tolerance for the ignorance of the youths. His wife has been severely emotionally traumatised, as have his children by the malevolence of these drunken youths. ``I don't mind them drinking in the field, as long as they keep away from our home,'' he said.

Minister for Justice John O Donoghue last week confirmed that there will be no amnesty for asylum seekers in Ireland. The Government has decided on ``a more straightforward system for removal of persons who have no permission to be in the state'', in other words ``zero tolerance'' for asylum seekers. The 21 immigrants deported since January and the increasingly ``acceptable'' face of racism as propagated in big Irish newspapers leaves us with the daunting emergence of racial hatred among a people who for so long were oppressed.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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