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Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric

Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.

On January 27, Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter, in a speech marking National Holocaust Memorial Day, condemned the rise of parties of the extreme political right, observing that “Holocaust Denial is the favourite sport for some”.

On March 23, Sinn Fein party dismissed K. O’Reily for posting anti-Travellers posts on Facebook. Members of the Fianna Fail party, including their leader Michael Martin, condemned racist remarks of the party agitator.

On June 4, Irish Senate held debates on the problems of racism and noted the lack of basic legislation on hate crime. Senator Mac Conghail brought in a motion which aimed at dealing racist crimes more thoroughly. The lack of any centralised mechanism for recording racist incidents was also highlighted. The motion proposed the establishment of a centralised database, a review of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act (1989) to introduce provisions to deal with racist crimes, to ratify the European Convention on Cybercrime and the Additional Protocol on online racism and to develop a new National Action Plan to combat racism. However the motion failed to be passed, while the Irish government brought in a counter-motion which, while also aimed at tackling racism, eschewed placing any demands on new pieces of legislature to be passed.

On August 11th, the Irish Minister of State for Equality, New Communities and Culture, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, went on record calling the heavily criticised direct provision system “not humane”. He went on to declare that he would not “stand over a system of people living in limbo for years on end.” He went on to stress the need for reforms to the system, which asylum seekers see as an evidence for institutional racism in Ireland”.

Authorities had a tough reaction to the events in Waterford on October 29, when nationalists attacked a group of travellers. Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin called them “cowardly, prejudiced and racist.” Leader of the local Labour party Ciara Conway said: "There are many nationalities involved in street crime in Ireland – the major one is Irish.”

Member of the local city council David Cullinane (Sinn Fein party) said that events in Waterford were completely unacceptable. He said that there is no place in society for rough justice, adding that if anyone has information relating to allegations of criminality they should bring it forward to the appropriate authorities.

On December 2, at the parliamentary debates around integration of immigrants MP Thomas Pringle asked the Minister of Justice and Equality whether the Office for Promotion of Migrant Integration will continue its functions in 2015.

Minister Francis Fitzgerald said that the government’s programme contains a commitment to promote integration of ethnic minorities in Ireland and promote social integration, equality, diversity and participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities.” He noted that the Office continued to monitor racist incidents and publish corresponding reports.

On 20th January 2017, the Irish Oireachtas’ Joint Committee on Justice and Equality published a report recognising the ethnicity of the traveller community in Ireland. Subsequent to the joint committees investigation into the issue, the office of the Taoiseach requested that the Department of Justice and Equality prepare a report for the Government on the question of recognising Traveller ethnicity. In March 2017, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D made a historic statement in the Irish Parliament (or DáilÉireann in Irish Gaelic) [1] announcing the state’s recognition of Traveller ethnicity based on the communities unique heritage, culture and identity.[2]

Following on from these positive steps, on 31st January 2017, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins warned that racism and xenophobia were ‘gaining ground’ in Ireland – ‘exploiting fears and ignorance in ways that could destroy democracy itself’.[3] In a speech in Dublin before diplomats in Dublin, he used the annual ceremony to raise awareness of the migrant crisis and warn that the United Nations was inadequately funded in its efforts on the subject. He also criticised the organisation for its occasional disconnect from ordinary citizens and muddying its ‘moral purpose’ what he cryptically described as a‘blatant pursuit of interests’.[4].

On 28th January 2018, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke at the Mansion House in Dublin to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. He stressed the importance of educatingIrish citizens about the Holocaust in order to prevent such horrors happening again. He went on to suggest that ‘[HMD] also allows us to reaffirm our shared principle that hatred and prejudice have no place in today’s society.’[5] This was a slightly more high profile appearance by a national politician at the Holocaust Education Trust Ireland Annual event. In January 2017, the event was presided over by Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

In October 2018, when announcing the referendum, Ireland's Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, who introduced the proposal, said it was "an important step" for the country's international reputation: “Unfortunately, there are countries in the world where blasphemy is a crime, the punishment for which is brought to death. In these countries, such laws are not an anachronism, but a very real threat to the lives of those who do not share the views of those who monitor the implementation of laws. Such situations are abhorrent to our beliefs and values... By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that anti-blasphemy laws do not reflect Ireland's values ​​and that we do not believe such laws should exist."


Minister Flanagan is also known for other anti-xenophobic speeches. For example, on June 17, 2020, during a debate in Parliament on the topic of combating racism, he stated: “Racism is insidious. It is present to one degree or another in every society, including Ireland. Recognizing this terrible reality is the first step in the fight against We need to face the fact that racism does exist in Ireland, we need to better understand how widespread this reality is and what its consequences are, and we need to develop effective strategies to combat it. a small minority of people in Ireland abuse or attack others because of their own prejudice or intolerance, and I condemn such actions completely and without reservation, for which there is really no justification."

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