Police list highlights anti-Irish racism in Britain
British police have maintained a secret list of all Irish
people, regardless of whether they are suspected of breaking
the law, it has emerged.
Police in the Humberside area of England ordered officers to
record details of every Irish person they dealt with.
Names and other personal details were fed into a database
compiled by Special Branch officers. Even English people of
Irish descent were put on the list.
The database of Irish residents on Humberside was compiled
during a campaign codenamed 'Operation Pre-Empt'.
Liberty, the civil rights campaign group, has called for the
destruction of the database. Barry Hugill, spokesperson for
the group, said: This is the police force that didnt think
it necessary to keep files on [child-killer] Ian Huntley and I
think it is outrageous that Irish people should be targeted in
this way, he said.
I trust there is going to be an investigation into the
Humberside force and I think it is only fair that those people
whose details were fed into the database receive an apology."
The revelation coincides with a new report showing Irish
people living in Britain are being subjected to daily racist
Based on interviews with Irish people in Britain, the research
found that even going to the doctor carried a risk of racist
comments. In some cases, Irish people said they were afraid to
speak in public for fear of remarks about their accents.
The latest findings are the result of a seven-year qualitative
research project into the health of Irish-born people in
Mary Tilki, author of the study, said that anti-Irish racism
is a contributor to the poor health profile of Irish-born
people living in Britain.
Before embarking on the study I would have argued that the
experience of living in the UK was the most significant cause
of poor health in Irish people, she said.
While evidence of discrimination was not unexpected, the
insidiousness, the subtlety and pervasiveness of anti-Irish
racism was alarming.
People describe being stereotyped as drunks, having their
accents mimicked and made fun of, or having grammar or
pronunciation corrected. This contributed to a reluctance to
access services, with individuals resorting to coping alone
until a crisis occurred.
* An RTE Primetime documentary tonight looks at the plight of
elderly Irish emigrants living in extreme poverty in Britain.