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Suniel Sharma tells BBC Radio Ulster:
Sectarianism, intolerance and prejudice are typical in NI society
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BBC Radio Ulster
Victims of racism speak out about their experiences
 real 28k

BBC NI's Tara Mills
The report found significant levels of racial prejudice
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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Racism growing in NI

Racial attacks are on the increase in Northern Ireland
A report on one of the most comprehensive studies into racial prejudice in Northern Ireland says racism is now twice as common as sectarianism.

The government-funded report found significant levels of racism and anti-traveller prejudice.

More than 1,250 people were interviewed by the University of Ulster for the survey.

Twice as many of the people questioned said they would be unwilling to accept or mix with members of ethnic minorities as they would with members of the other main religious tradition to their own

Hostility towards the travelling community most concerned the report authors, Dr Paul Connolly and Dr Michaela Keenan following their survey.

'Attitudes hardening'

Two-thirds of those questioned said they would not work with travellers.

More than half would not accept travellers as neighbours.

More than a third of those polled said they would not like to work with Asian, Afro-Caribbean or Chinese people.

A quarter said could not accept members of these ethnic groups as neighbours.

The report authors said attitudes also appeared to have hardened over time.

Five years ago, a third of those questioned said they would not accept a Chinese person as a relative by marriage.

In this poll, over half the people questioned said they would not welcome a Chinese person into their family.

However, 83% of the people polled said they supported the need for effective equal opportunities policies for minority ethnic people.

And 87% felt that children should be taught about minority ethnic peoples' traditions in school.

Report recommendations

The report authors welcomed the government's work in the area of race relations in Northern Ireland, but said a lot more needed to be done.

They recommended that:

  • All public authorities should play their part in promoting good race relations

  • The Equality Commission should spearhead a broader educational campaign to promote racial awareness and understanding.

  • The Housing Executive should set up local community relations initiatives between travellers and local resident to build up trust and understanding

  • Schools should teach children about other cultures and traditions and increase their awareness and understanding of the problems of racism in society.

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    09 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
    Man assaulted by masked gang
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