[Sinn Fein]

21 March 2001

UN International Day Against Racism

Gerry Adams calls for vigorous race-hate crime legislation to combat racism and sectarianism

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has marked the UN International Day Against Racism by calling for an all-Ireland drive by state agencies ``to ensure that the sentiments in statements issued today by the Taoiseach and other political leaders are lived up to by their strategic planning, policies and day-to-day practices''.

The Sinn Fein president also called for an all-Ireland, community-based anti-racist network and ``vigorous'' race-hate crime legislation to deal with racist and sectarian violence.

Mr Adams said:

``Racial and sectarian harassment does not have to be physical to cause harm - psychological and verbal abuse in the workplace or in the community can have its own toll on people who are struggling to build a new life in a new country. And the same applies to Irish people from the Travelling community as well as people from overseas.

``We need vigorous race-hate crime legislation to protect vulnerable families from racist and sectarian bigots.''

Mr Adams said that the challenge to racism must be built at a community level and he urged the establishment of an all-Ireland anti-racism network, with government material support, ``to develop policy, co-ordinate community activity and liaise on a cross-sectoral basis''.

Mr Adams noted that the UN International Day Against Racism takes place on the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 when 69 people were shot dead by apartheid police in South Africa.  Mr Adams said:

``Sinn Fein sees racism as a product of colonialism and imperialism, as a violation of fundamental human rights.  We abhor racism wherever it is fostered and practised.  Sinn Fein reaffirms its solidarity with those peoples and movements around the world who oppose racism and advance equality.''

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