18 May 2000
Gerry Adams calls on party leaders to unite against racism
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has called on party leaders throughout Ireland to make a public declaration against racism. Mr Adams said:
``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.''
Mr Adams's comments come 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 last night (Wednesday), Mr Adams criticised the Dublin Government's policy which he described as ``at best a fire brigade response and, at its worse, one based on intolerance and bigotry''.
Mr Adams continued:
``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. Communities have a right 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.''
Mr Adams said people need:- a) A comprehensive Government policy on the related issues of immigration and asylum; b) New legislation based on a fair and just immigration system which will allow people, in numbers which can be agreed, to come to this State to work; c) The full implementation of the 26-County Refugee Act; d) To see the Government work in consultation with local communities and ensure that proper back-up services and supports are provided.
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