Republican News · Thursday 15 June 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Government-sponsored racism

The vicious attack on David Richardson in Dublin's Pearse Street last weekend was not an isolated incident. Refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, people on holiday - generally anybody whose skin colour or background does not fit - have had to put up with attacks and harassment on Irish streets.


Ignorance and hatred are at the heart of racism, but there are other reasons underlying these. One is the tacit acceptance by a government, a media and an establishment that certain people are intrinsically of lesser worth than others. Flotels, food tokens and other alienating devices are part of this. So too are inflammatory comments by the likes of Justice minister John O'Donoghue on the need to `get tough' with immigrants and by newspapers that whip up fear and intolerance with headlines that warn of `tides' and `floods' of immigrants.

other of the reasons underlying racism is the ghettoisation of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in communities that have already been ghettoised. Racism often occurs when people cannot understand the reasons for their social problems and want to find someone vulnerable to blame.

While Ireland's economy continues to grow, so too will our intake of immigrants. Some will be fleeing from persecution; some will just be hoping to make a better life for themselves, others will be from stable economic backgrounds and attracted to Ireland for other reasons. Whatever the motivation, people must be seen as exactly that - people, whose race or creed is merely incidental and who will, if allowed, enrich our society.

Ireland cannot be some kind of fortress, oblivious to the rest of the world and forgetful of the emigration which has plagued our own society in the past.

It is up to politicians and people of influence to make their positions clear against racism. Pandering and dithering for electoral gain, or expressing opinions which are clearly racist has been the status quo for too long.

This doesn't just lead to racism, it leads also to violence and death.

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