Racism and Xenophobia has no place in Irish politics

08 April 2019

Speaking in response to the threat of racism and xenophobia in Irish politics, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, called on all political parties to publicly pledge to refuse any coalition or co-operation with political parties, groups or individuals who espouse racism or xenophobic anti-migrant policies.

Deputy Howlin said:

“Labour Councillors, MEPs, TDs and Senators will not enter into any coalition or co-operation agreement with political parties, groups or individuals who promote racism and xenophobic anti-migrant policies.

“There should be no place in our democracy for those who wish to promote racism and hate, but the sad fact is that Ireland is no different to other countries. We have far-right groups and individuals, and they are actively trying to influence our politics. In some European countries, they have succeeded. Ireland has been fortunate so far, but we cannot be complacent, which is why I am calling all political parties to stop this cancer before it grows.

“In advance of the upcoming local and European elections on 24th May, I am asking all political parties to publicly pledge to refuse any coalition, co-operation or confidence arrangements with any party, group or individual who espouses racism or xenophobic anti-migrant views. This should be the case in local councils and the European Parliament, as well as in the Dáil and Seanad.

“We can of course have a mature policy debate about migration, but that is totally different from what the racists are calling for.

“Irish people have been emigrants for centuries, and there are vibrant Irish communities all over the globe. We know what it is to flee oppressive circumstances and famine. We support the case of the undocumented Irish who are illegal migrants in the USA and elsewhere. In recent years, Ireland has become home to people from around the world, and they have made a positive and welcome contribution to the life of our country.

“Everyone should feel safe and welcome in Ireland, but sadly there are frequent reports of racist abuse and violence. Significant numbers of people from our new communities – especially visible minorities – report receiving abuse on the street, problems accessing employment and hassle at work.

“In Ireland, nearly 5% of people were born in Britain, another 6% were born in the rest of the EU and 5% were born in the rest of the world. Around one in twenty people in Ireland are visible minorities, for example identifying as Black or Asian, including those Irish people with one or more ancestors from abroad.

“Ireland’s future is as a pluralist society, one that simultaneously preserves and celebrates our longstanding history and traditions – including minority cultures such as Irish Travellers, Irish Jews and others – while also celebrating the traditions of our new communities.

“In other countries, the growth of far-right politics has led to centre-right parties giving way on issues and lowering their standards. That is the real threat that we face in Ireland. Social media has revealed that there are politically active racists in Ireland, who are quite willing to insinuate themselves into larger political groups in order to progress their agenda. A far-right influence could sway Irish politics in a negative and damaging direction. Other countries have managed to avoid this, and all democratic parties must ensure that it doesn’t happen here through any lack of action on our part.”

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