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McDonald addresses need to manage inward migration

1 March, 2008


I want to begin by acknowledging the contribution of immigrants to Ireland, of new communities in Ireland. Your contribution, social, cultural and economic is significant and appreciated.

I want also to acknowledge the very great change and challenge that the newly emerging, diverse Ireland presents for us. First among these challenges is racism. There is a pressing need to bridge gaps of understanding and to address prejudice. We need an active approach to tackling racism. 

I want to firmly state that republicans reject racism. We will not tolerate racism, we will confront racism in our work within communities or in the institutions where we represent the people.

We equally reject sectarianism.

 

Racism and sectarianism poison a society, foster division and diminish all of us.

 

For Ireland to reach its full potential we must conquer these twin evils.

 

The challenges of integrating new communities, of building positive intercultural interaction and of managing migration are substantial. They are the building blocks for a diverse Ireland at peace with itself.

 

The process of integration must have the support of Irish people and newcomers alike. Throughout Europe there is evidence of failed approaches to inward migration. Ireland must get it right.

 

In getting it right we must recognise the need to manage inward migration. All of us, Irish nationals and newcomers alike, share a common interest in forging an immigration system that is fair, transparent and efficient.

 

Immigration, residence and protection bill

There is an urgent need to reform this country's outdated and inadequate asylum and immigration legislation. The government's Immigration, residence and protection bill falls short of the mark. Family reunification is ignore and the protections for victims of trafficking inadequate. Most worryingly is the lack of appropriate appeals mechanisms. Provisions to safeguard the appeals mechanism must be put in place. The government laments an over reliance on the courts in adjudicating asylum and immigration cases. The solution to this is to provide a transparent, independent and accountable system of review. Their bill does not provide this. Their bill must be amended to provide for this.

Addressing pressing social and economic problems is crucial to successful integration strategy and a positive intercultural experience.

Equality at work with a fair days pay for a fair days work irrespective of the nationality of the worker must be part of strategy. The ongoing abuse of temporary, agency and bogus 'self employed' workers is a scandal. This government has facilitated two grievous wrongs: the exploitation of migrant workers and the displacement of Irish workers. Shame on them. This Ard Fhéis demands legislation for and enforcement of equal rights, equal pay, for all workers.

 

 

We need a real commitment to education. This means providing a local school place for every child in the state. No family, no child should be faced with the panic of no school place, with the hardship of long travelling times to a school outside their locality, and with the indignity of being bussed out of their area to be educated elsewhere.

 

The serious problems in the housing sector are not new. They have been with us for many years. This crisis is real; it affects everyone from the young to the old, native Irish and newcomer alike. Investment in social and affordable housing, in services for the homeless is needed now.

 

These pressing social pressures have been the cause of some tensions and resentments between people in our communities. Meeting these social challenges is at the heart of creating a harmonious, diverse Ireland.

 

Rhetoric is not enough. We demand action from government now.

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