Social media companies have been urged to act quickly to protect victims of online abuse after an RTÉ journalist described being the subject of racist abuse since she started working at the organisation in 2017.

Zainab Boladale, who presented News2Day from 2017 to 2019, said she was called a 'n*****' and told she "looks like a monkey" in sustained online abuse.

The Nigerian-born Irish woman, who now works on Nationwide, said the abuse had affected her mental health.

The 23-year-old Dublin City University graduate said she faced a constant stream of online abuse while working on News2Day.

She said one user wrote on Twitter that she should "get out of Celtic lands", while another posted: "Consider yourself Irish all you want but you are Nigerian."

Ms Boladale, who moved to Ennis in Co Clare when she was four years old and is a fluent Irish speaker, said that for months a YouTube channel constantly compiled videos of her from her social media accounts and television.

The YouTube channel that Ms Boladale referred to has been deactivated after complaints, but she said she had also been abused while out on jobs.

In a statement, Managing Director of RTÉ News and Current Affairs Jon Williams said: "All of us in RTÉ are disgusted that anyone should have to put up with such vile behaviour.

"Zainab's grace and dignity stands in sharp contrast to the cowardice of the bullies who've abused her. 

"Sadly harassment of journalists is nothing new. But we expect the social media companies to act quickly and decisively to protect victims. All of her RTÉ family stand with Zainab and abhor any kind of racism."

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Ms Boladale said that she decided to speak publically about the situation because she was "really fed up".

She said there are a lot of questions in the media about whether or not Ireland is racist.

"I just felt really, really fed up and irritated that we were still having this conversation, because I felt like we're constantly having the conversation about what is racist and what isn't. It's very clear what is and what isn't."

Ms Boladale said that if a group of people from a marginalised community feel that a comment, statement or act is racist, then the answer is clear.

"Why are we debating about how people feel? Whenever people of colour or from minority backgrounds are in the public eye, they undeniably get a lot of racism. You see it all the time," she said.

Ms Boladale said she was initially reluctant to make a big deal about the situation because she did not want to draw more attention to herself.

She said the racism she has experienced has not been exclusively online and that she has experienced abuse while out reporting.

"I was in the midlands and someone stopped me. I think they had thought that I was someone from Direct Provision because they were questioning whether or not I was Irish. He asked me where I was from and when I said Clare he laughed and asked me again".

She said the man then asked her where she was "originally from" and told her she had "very good English for a Nigerian girl" and asked if he could buy her hair.

Ms Boladale added that the man then laughed when she told him she was an RTÉ reporter.

"It put a downer on my day. It's tough when you're trying to do your job and you have these things being thrown at you and you have to manage that while still trying to maintain your positivity".