Irish Republican News · December 22, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
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 didn't 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 taunts.

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 London.

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.

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