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Wednesday 21 August 2019

New councillors tell of bigotry while out on the election trail

Green Party’s Hazel Chu
Green Party’s Hazel Chu

Two newly-elected councillors have called for urgent action on racism after they were subjected to bigotry on the campaign trail.

The councillors, who are both from minority backgrounds, have said their intelligence was questioned while canvassing.

They were also branded "paper Irish".

Poll-topping Green Party councillor Hazel Chu said her brother was hospitalised after he was subjected to a racist assault.

Ashtray

Ms Chu's mother, who was born in Hong Kong, was also racially abused and hit with an ashtray while working in a restaurant.

"The thing is, with people being racially biased, it has always happened in Ireland, so there is always an undercurrent there," the Dublin city councillor told Independent.ie's Floating Voter podcast.

"But what has happened in the last five years, it is a lot more brazen.

"They don't call it racism, they say it is an issue with immigration, and they point to the fact that it is controlled immigration that they need, rather than no immigration.

"It's a different conversation, but it is becoming a louder conversation."

Fine Gael councillor Yemi Adenuga described how voters asked her if she was "intelligent enough to run" for councillor, and told her she was taking Irish jobs by becoming a polit-ician.

"The reality is, you are seeing more and more of this sort of thing because it is not dealt with," the Meath county councillor said.

"We are sweeping it under the carpet and we are saying we are dealing with it well and we're not that bad.

"When you don't deal with issues like this, it escalates. My worry would be that more and more people will become more influenced by it.

"People who ordinarily wouldn't have made it an issue would think about it and make it an issue, and then you see more of it happening."

The Nigerian-born councillor also discussed growing up in a polygamous home, where her father had seven wives and 27 children.

Ms Adenuga has starred in the TV show Gogglebox in the past.

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