The Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) strongly condemns the incident which took place at an event organised by Gymnastics Ireland in March 2022, at which a then 10-year-old black Irish gymnast was mistreated at the medal ceremony for participation. We also condemn the way the response to the incident was handled by Gymnastics Ireland. In recent days a video of the medal ceremony from this event has been shared and reposted on multiple media platforms. This incident has been widely discussed among social work practitioners, among others. Black and Minority Ethnic Social Workers in particular feel frustrated and disappointed that this incident happened, the inadequate response to it and specifically the delay in issuing the appropriate written apology to this gymnast and her family.
IASW believes in, and works to uphold human rights and promotes social justice and social inclusion. This sort of incident not only raises the question of individual racist conduct but it also highlights the failures to tackle such racist incidents at an organisational level. To prevent further incidents of mistreatment and public humiliation of gymnasts from Black and Minority Ethnic communities, we recommend that Gymnastics Ireland review their policies on Diversity, Inclusion and Tackling Incidents of Racism. We also recommend that Gymnastics Ireland officials, staff and volunteers undertake regular training on Cultural Awareness – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
As social workers, we feel disheartened for, and express solidarity with, this young person who experienced mistreatment in public a year and a half ago and has been reliving the trauma due to the inadequate response to the incident and the recent extensive media coverage arising. Child welfare is a responsibility of our communities, government bodies and all organisations in society. Therefore, we call for this young person to receive whatever appropriate help and support she may need, including in her school and in the wider community. We also send her every good wish for the future and hope that no other child has to go through what she has experienced.