Irish Republican News · June 29, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Race violence as politicians discuss Brexit chaos
Race violence as politicians discuss Brexit chaos

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England is currently experiencing a wave of xenophobic attacks as politicians across Europe grapple with the fallout of the shock result of a British vote to leave the EU.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the British government to take action to stop the violence, while a campaign has begun for people to wear safety pins to show their support for anyone experiencing racism.

The incidents have been directed against EU citizens as well as those from other countries and backgrounds.

Allison, a 30-year-old from south-west London, was inspired to start the #SafetyPin campaign because of a similar campaign in Australia.

The idea behind the ‘Pin of Safety’ is that it “marks its wearer as a safe person,” so anyone feeling nervous can sit next to the wearer on public transport or talk to them.

Allison added: “I see the safety pin as a pledge that the wearer will not just stand by if they see acts of racism going on -- they will intervene and report, to the best of their abilities.”

Hundreds of racist incidents ranging from obscene gestures and comments to violent attacks have been reported since the result of the Brexit referendum emerged on Friday. Police in England have confirmed that the number of hate crimes being investigated by them has already increased by 57%.

Footage of one incident appeared on the internet showing a group of youths telling a man to get off a tram. During the incident, a tram passenger is told to “get back to Africa” and called a “f**king immigrant” before being drenched in beer by the gang.

In Cambridgeshire, cards were sent to local houses reading “Leave the EU - no more Polish vermin”. And Kimberley Roberts, who works as a nanny in London, was called a “Chink” and told she would have to “go back home soon” when travelling on the London Underground.

She said: “I felt hurt and confused at first. I wasn’t sure why he was saying this to me. I’m English. My parents are English and my grandparents are English. All born and raised in this country.”

Loyalists in the north of Ireland have engaged in a new wave of racist incidents in apparent solidarity with those in England. Graffiti including a swastika symbol has been daubed on the door of a house in County Armagh. Another door was sprayed with “C18”, representing the hardline neo-Nazi organisation Combat 18, while two cars were also damaged.

The crisis has also provoked fears among Irish citizens living in Britain whose status remains uncertain, despite assurances from the Dublin government.

“What about the Irish here, who thought the dark days of ‘No dogs, No blacks, No Irish’ were long behind us? Will we be next?” said Jennifer O’Brien, an Irish journalist based in London. “The question on the minds of many Irish immigrants in Britain is, what if this is just the beginning?”

EMERGENCY TALKS

EU leaders met in Brussels on Wednesday morning for a second-day of a summit, following British prime minister David Cameron’s departure for London on Tuesday night.

The 26 County Taoiseach Enda Kenny was reported as having set out Ireland’s “centuries of ties” with Britain as the EU leaders considered the next steps for the union.

Cameron laid the blame for the shock British referendum result on immigration, but said that Britain was seeking a “constructive” deal with Europe to build “the closest possible relationship in terms of trade and co-operation and security”.

However, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker claimed that years of negative coverage of the EU in Brussels had contributed to the problem.

“My impression is that if you, over years, if not decades, tell citizens that something is wrong with the EU, that the EU is too technocratic, too bureaucratic, you cannot be taken by surprise if voters believe you.”

A hardline position from EU leaders has been made easier by sudden power battles currently taking place within both the Conservative and the main opposition Labour party in England.

Amid some debate about who would trigger the necessary Article 50 to make a Brexit irreversible after Cameron steps down -- now set for September -- German chancellor Angela Merkel said it was time for “reality.”

Dismissing suggestions of a possible second referendum, she said that a British exit from the EU seemed inevitable. “I don’t see a way to turn this around,” she said. “This is not a time for wishful thinking but to look reality in the eye.”

She warned London it could not “cherry-pick” its way back into the single market. She was referring to back-tracking by Boris Johnson, the Tory leader of the ‘Leave’ campaign and potential future Prime Minister, who is seeking to retain access to the EU single market while ending immigration from Europe.

Merkel said that accepting free movement of people “applies to Great Britain as much as anyone else” seeking access to the single market from outside the EU.

Meanwhile, the British Labour party is in complete disarray over a sudden putsch by MPs against popular leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Scottish nationalists have now identified themselves as the main opposition at Westminster.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was holding talks with Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels today as she seeks to negotiate Scotland’s position within the EU following a historic Scottish Parliament decision to endorse a full diplomatic initiative with Europe for the first time in over 300 years.

Their meeting comes after Scottish nationalist MEP Alyn Smyth received a rare standing ovation in the European parliament after he exhorted them to support Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU “Scotland did not let you down,” he said. Please, I beg you, do not let Scotland down now.”

In Ireland, the political reaction to the Brexit vote has been more uncertain and contradictory.

One immediate effect has been a huge increase in the number of British citizens applying for an Irish passport. Unionist hardliner Ian Paisley Jr, who supported the Leave campaign, amazed political observers when he recommended his constituents take advantage of their Irish citizenship to hold both passport.

Fearing the potential financial impact of the referendum result on both sides of the border, the policy of the Dublin government appears to be to manage and minimise the transition.

There also remains general confusion over how to handle the damage to the 1998 and 2006 peace agreements in the North in view of the potential reintroduction of a hard border and the likely nullification of key human rights and other legislation relating to the European Union.

At the crunch meeting of EU leaders, the 26 County Taoiseach Enda Kenny was reported as having set out Ireland’s “centuries of ties” with Britain as he strongly supported their position in the talks. A spokesman for the Taoiseach said Mr Kenny spoke at the meeting and declared that “the Irish relationship with the UK is at its strongest”.

Sinn Fein has organised a public rally this evening in support of its bid for a Six Counties poll on unification with the 26 Counties, despite it being again rejected this week by David Cameron.

“There is an onus on the British government to respect the democratic wishes of the people of the north,” Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD said. He called on Enda Kenny “to think nationally in a real sense. The Irish government needs an all-island, all-Ireland view.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said her party would defend the people of the Six Counties. “We will defend the wishes of the people of the North of Ireland,” she told the EU Parliament. “There was a democratic vote. We voted to remain.”

© 2016 Irish Republican News