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Lenihan comments show need for enforcement of Anti-Racism Protocol

18 May, 2005


Speaking in response to the derogatory comments of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Conor Lenihan regarding Turkish migrant workers in the Dail today, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus O Snodaigh TD said:

"The Minister of State's comments were disgraceful, and it is only right if he subsequently withdrew them. I should also expect him to issue a public apology to Turkish people and others of Middle Eastern origin living and working and paying taxes in Ireland, as well as a formal apology to the Turkish Ambassador.

"Of course, racist jokes are not funny, and racist comments are never acceptable on the part of public representatives. Yet this kind of behaviour continues - largely without sanction from party leadership. What we need is for all the political parties to educate their membership from top to bottom about the obligations we are all under having signed up to the Anti-Racism Protocol for Political Parties, and also to enforce the obligations through disciplinary procedure. I urge the Taoiseach to respond with his view of this.

"I wish I could express surprise, but this is not the first such serious lapse of judgment from this Minister of State, who I earlier criticised when he disparaged Ireland's development organisations for advocating on behalf of the world's poor.

"What else can we expect from a Government whose Minister for Justice and Equality not only doesn't believe in equality, but actually believes that inequality is good." ENDS

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