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Eric Yao of the Africa Centre, Salome Mbunge of Akidwa, and Clement Esebamen of the Ireland West Africa Business and Economic Council at Ireland's Black leaders press conference.

Black immigrants say they are now under siege in Ireland

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Eric Yao of the Africa Centre, Salome Mbunge of Akidwa, and Clement Esebamen of the Ireland West Africa Business and Economic Council at Ireland's Black leaders press conference.

Racial tensions are rising in Ireland and the government under attack, after black community leaders claimed immigrants are "under siege," while a Nigerian embassy official was critical of attitudes to West Africans.

The comments came at the end of a week that saw a black taxi driver murdered in Dublin and the mayor of Naas forced to resign over racist remarks.

Leaders from across the black community told a Dublin press conference that racial abuse is now at an all-time high in Ireland. Their sentiments were echoed by Dr Georges O Alabi, deputy head of mission at the Nigerian embassy.

Dr Alabi told the conference that he had no choice but to break diplomatic ranks and speak out after a Nigerian born taxi-driver was killed on the streets of Dublin.

“I’m foreign office. I should not comment,” Dr Alabi told the Irish Examiner. “My family and I have personally experienced the stark reality of racism, with people repeatedly phoning our house and calling us niggers.
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“We just need to do more in the area of political leadership. The silence is too much.”

Journalist Chinedu Onyejelem, the editor of the Metro Éireann newspaper aimed at the immigrant community, also addressed the conference.

He said: “There is a widespread regime of verbal, physical and psychological attacks on immigrants and black Africans in particular.

“The Irish Government has to live up to its responsibility to protect all residents and to introduce strong measures to end racism in Ireland.”

A statement from the group who organized the press conference said: “Immigrants in Ireland are under siege - there is evidence of widespread attacks against them.

“We now have a regime of verbal, physical and psychological attacks on immigrants and Black Africans in particular.

“There is evidence of the growing boldness of bigots. We have called this meeting to discuss the racism that has been felt by immigrants, non-native Irish and black Irish folk as a result of unprecedented levels of racist attitudes, attacks, and a lack of leadership by the government and the institutions of the state.”

The group, which included community leaders Eric Yao of the Africa Centre, Salome Mbunge of Akidwa, a network of African and migrant women living in Ireland, and Clement Esebamen of the Ireland West Africa Business and Economic Council, called on the government to act to end racism in Ireland.

“We demand the Irish government live up to its responsibility to protect all residents in the Republic of Ireland and to take strong measures to end racism,” the statement added.

Akidwa leader Mbunge said later: “Racism needs to be taken seriously from the top level. I call on people to speak out against racism.”

The conference also heard that a recent Gallup survey found that 73 percent of black Africans in Ireland believed that discrimination based on ethnicity or immigration is "widespread" in Ireland.

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