Adams calls for unity against racism
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called on party leaders throughout Ireland to make a public declaration against racism.
``It is up to political leaders to make it clear that they will not play party politics with the race issue and that they will not tolerate racism in any form in their party,'' he said.
His comments came after increased tension between asylum seekers and residents in the 26 Counties and recent attacks on members of the Chinese community in the Six Counties.
Speaking at a meeting of the party's national officer board on Wednesday, 17 May, Adams said the Dublin government's immigration policy was ``at best a fire brigade response and, at its worst, one based on intolerance and bigotry.
``Not only has the government failed to address the needs and rights of refugees and asylum seekers, it has also ignored the needs and rights of urban and rural communities. Communities have a right to be consulted and to expect adequate resources and supports. But communities also have obligations and responsibilities as human beings.
``In all of this debate, some of us seem to have forgotten our own history. In years gone by we suffered racist abuse in our own country from colonial occupiers and we were subjected to racial discrimination in other lands. It is not so long ago that signs saying `No Irish - No Blacks' were displayed on boarding-house windows in England. It is not so long ago that thousands of young Irish people departed our shores for the United States to work illegally.
``But it is important to point out that racism does not grow by accident. Everywhere it has taken hold it is because unscrupulous people in politics and other spheres of society have nurtured it for their own cynical interests.
``It is up to political leaders to make clear that they will not play party politics with the race issue and that they will not tolerate racism in any form in their party.''
Adams called for a comprehensive government policy on the related issues of immigration and asylum; new legislation based on a fair and just immigration system to allow people, in numbers that can be agreed, to come to Ireland to work; and the full implementation of the 26-County Refugee Act. He called on the Dublin government to work in consultation with local communities and ensure that proper back-up services and supports are provided.