Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Adams welcomes ethnic minority communities

4 March, 2004

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP today address an event in the Culturlann organised by Féile an Phobail welcoming the different ethnic minority communities to West Belfast.

Mr Adams said:

"The event is an important statement that everyone is welcome in West Belfast. We should make no distinctions on account of colour, or religion, or ethnic background.

All visitors are welcome in West Belfast, whether they are coming from the other side of the world or the other side of the city.

Everyone who settles here is a valued member of the community whether they have lived here all their life or less than a year.

Racism is sectarianism by another name. Like sectarianism racism cannot have any place in our community. We must ensure that ethic communities who settle in West Belfast are made to feel welcome.

The record of the British government in relation to racism and in particular the issue of asylum seekers has been disastrous. Imprisoning people seeking asylum is wrong.

Ireland is known throughout the world as a place of welcome. We have a famous phase Cead mile failte.

Cead mile failte has to be more than a tourist cliché. Our welcome is more than honeyed words. It is an invitation to share with us. To share our community, to share experiences and to learn from each other.

Within West Belfast we have ethnic communities including Moslems, Latinos, Irish Travellers, West Indians, Chinese, Korean, Pakistani, Basques, Africans and Philippinoes. These people are our doctors, nurses, retailers, employers, neighbours and friends.

We must all examine how we make these communities welcome. Can premises we used as meeting places for ethnic minorities, can technology be made available to ethic communities to maintain connect with family and fiends at home. What can be do to share our experiences and history. How can we learn from with ethnic minorities.

Travel any where in the world and you meet Irish people. Irish People who have left home for economic and other reasons came to form ethnic minorities.

Irish People who have contributed to the social cultural and economic life of their host counties. They are now valued workers, business and community leaders.

When republicans were being marginalised and demonised at home. It was the elements of the international community who had suffered the legacy of colonialism and imperialism and recognised injustice and inequality. These groups stood shoulder to shoulder with this community.

We own great deal of gratitude to our friends throughout the world. The counties and groups who spoke out against injustice and the communities who welcomed and supported Irish immigrants.

Here in Belfast, and across the North Nationalist suffered repression, discrimination and sectarian violence. It gave rise to the civil rights movement. Our goal then was to end injustice and end equality. Our goal today is to complete that work.

There is an onus on the state to enact laws, polices and practises to ensure that ethic minorities do not face repressive or discriminatory practises.

I hope that today we build this dialogue and develop support and projects.

I believe that the message of today has to be that there is no place in West Belfast or any other community in Ireland for racism." ENDS

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