Republican News · Thursday 23 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Dublin radio spreads worldwide anti-racism message

Community radio station NEAR FM, based in Coolock, Dublin, took part in a path breaking 24-hour worldwide radio show, organised by AMARC's `Voices without Frontiers' to mark the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Tuesday, 21 March. The radio show started at 6am in Russia on Tuesday morning, and ended in Australia at 6am Wednesday morning, Irish time.

In a marvellous daylong collection of programmes, NEAR radio broadcast live messages from many of the refugee support groups and anti racism NGOs in Dublin, in a programme which came from the Traveller Centre at Pavee Point, The Vincentian Centre, the Islamic Cultural Centre, speaking with the many people who are refugees and the many people concerned about racial discrimination in today's Ireland.

The day reached its high point with a special broadcast to launch a campaign for an Amnesty for refugees who have come to Ireland. The campaign is being organised by the Association of Nigerian Refugees and Asylum-Seekers, and many people, including TDs Joe Higgins and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, MEP Patricia McKenna, and spokespeople from many anti racism NGOs, articulated the appalling conditions in which refugees to Ireland are placed, the growing racism they encounter, carefully fostered by government policies and statements which fill the media daily, kite flying government `thinking' on what they are going to do with what they continuous refer to as the `flood of illegal immigrants'. (Refugees are not illegal. Not yet anyway).

Dr. Brian Fanning from UCD called the so called `dispersal policy' a perfect example of the government's ad-hocery'.

Vouchers, in place of cash maintenance payments from Social Welfare are coming in April. Access to legal advice and to the courts has been severely restricted, if not, in practice cut off, to refugees.

Refugees also suffer the discriminatory practice of receiving `comfort money' of 15 per week, instead of their legal entitlement to welfare payments, whilst they remain without means of support.

Twenty-Six County Justice Minister John O'Donoghue took the opportunity of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to take part in a photo opportunity and sound byte, at the launch of Sport Against Racism in Ireland's school pack to announce across the media that talk of `flotels', `canvas pavilions', receptions centres, `detention camps', and `integration centres', didn't emerge from him and he and the government were, of course, all quite against these ideas.

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