[Sinn Fein]

13 January 1998

Sinn Fein TD supports anti-racism motion

Speaking in support of the all-party motion on racism in Leinster House on Tuesday Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

``We are witnessing a rise in racism and bigotry in our country. This is repugnant to the best democratic traditions of the Irish people. We have suffered racist abuse in our own country from colonial occupiers; we have been 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.

``While this has been our experience it does not make the Irish people immune from the virus of racism. It is important to point out that the virus of racism does not grow of its own accord. Everywhere it has taken hold it is because unscrupulous people in politics and other spheres have nurtured it for their own cynical short-term interests.

``Disgracefully there are certain politicians in this State who have been guilty of condoning racism. This is not only manifest in public statements. It is present when politicians pander to the bigotry which places the blame for unemployment and lack of housing on immigrants or refugees, or which scapegoats Travellers and denies them their rights as Irish citizens. The real responsibility for the scourge of unemployment and poor housing lies of course with successive governments who have failed to provide adequately for all our people.

``Let us all, together, make it clear that we will not tolerate racism of any kind. We live in a multi-cultural Ireland. That enriches us all. It is no threat to our native culture and heritage. On the contrary it strengthens it, just as the cultural contribution of Irish people has enriched and strengthened other societies. ``This motion will have little meaning if it is not immediately followed by measures to alleviate the plight of those at the receiving end of racism. In particular it is most urgent that the Refugee Act is implemented in full. It is inexcusable that this has not been done.

``Amnesty International says that the Department of Justice seems to have taken an Act passed by the Oireachtas, the Refugee Act, and selected from it those parts which suit Departmental procedures and abandoned the rest.

``While this motion is welcome, until the Refugee Act is implemented in full this Government's commitment to anti-racism remains open to challenge.

``Ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuilim ag tacú leis an rún seo. Ba chóir dúinn uile cur i gcoinne an chiníochas.'' Crioch

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