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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 15:30 GMT
Murder sparks Irish racism fears
Zhao Liuyang attends his murdered brother's inquest
Zhao Liuyang's brother was the first race-hate victim
By Greta Vichey in Dublin

On a wet Monday in January, Zhao Liutao was heading home with two Chinese friends from a night out on Dublin's northside.

Walking along a quiet residential street in the Beaumont area at around 2200 they encountered a group of Irish youths.

What was to happen next left many in Ireland stunned and horrified.

The two Chinese men and one woman became the focus of racist abuse.

One resident heard a commotion though did not believe anyone was in danger.


The Irish should be more understanding, after all didn't we emigrate to all parts of the world and were welcomed and accepted

Irishman Terry Burke

But a fight broke out and Zhao, who was 29 and had arrived in Dublin only a few months earlier, was badly beaten.

He was taken to Beaumont Hospital where he died from head injuries three days later.

Dublin's Chinese community was shocked and angered by Zhao's death, which is being described as Ireland's first racially motivated murder.

The Irish police, the Garda Siochana, arrested two youths in connection with the murder.

Further action

They were released without charge but a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions who will decide on any further action.

Zhao was one of an increasing number of overseas students heading for Ireland to learn English.

He had been living with fellow Chinese students and was not thought to have felt unwelcome in the capital city.

Ireland's Chinese community of more than 40,000 people is a settled one.

Most are based in Dublin but there are Chinese families around the country, with many working in the restaurant industry.

People cross Hapenny Bridge in Dublin
Non-white people are now more common in Dublin

Ireland's ethnic make-up has seen a significant change in the last decade with more and more people classified as non-white.

One reason for this is a huge increase in the number of people seeking asylum in the country.

Another is Ireland's recent economic boom which makes it attractive to economic migrants from Europe, Africa and beyond.

The changes have created tensions and the Irish Department of Justice has launched projects to tackle racism both in cities, where the pressure is more obvious, and in rural areas.

The number of racially motivated crimes was not recorded in the 2000 crime report of the Garda Siochana, Ireland's police.

A spokesman for the Irish police told BBC News Online that data for such attacks would be included in the 2001 report which is still to be published.

On Dublin's Parnell Street, Femi and his wife Oji from Nigeria are busy putting their weekly shopping into their car.


I think some people resent us and blame us for taking their jobs and their money

Oji, from Nigeria
They are reluctant to discuss racism and the Irish.

"We're happy in Ireland, it has been good to us," Femi said.

"On a couple of occasions people have said horrible things, telling us to go back to our own kind and things like that.

"It doesn't bother me too much but I would worry for my children," he said.

His wife was more concerned: "There have been a few incidents with some of our friends.

"We don't want any trouble, we just want to get on with our lives," she said.

"[But] I think some people resent us and blame us for taking their jobs and their money."

Nearby, Terry Burke, who is unloading his van, conceded that not everyone had dealt well with the changes Ireland has undergone.

Ignorance

"The Irish should be more understanding, after all didn't we emigrate to all parts of the world and were welcomed and accepted.

"It's time we returned some of that goodwill to others looking to make their lives better," he said.

For many, racism is the result of ignorance.

Groups in Ireland are urging positive action be taken to educate people about differences to avoid racial tensions spilling over again with such tragic effect.

See also:

19 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Anger over attack on Chinese man
02 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Concern over racist attack
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