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Elections must be held in racism-free environment

19 March, 2004

Sinn Féin Dublin EU candidate Mary Lou McDonald called on all political parties, north and south, to give a public commitment to keep the forthcoming elections racism-free.

Ms McDonald said: "This Sunday marks International Day against Racism and hundreds of events will take place across Ireland. The theme this year is the full participation of minority ethnic groups in broader society and it is something which we fully support and are working for.

"Sinn Féin is calling on all political parties on the island of Ireland to reaffirm their commitment to the anti-racist protocol for political parties and give a commitment to keep the Local Government and European Union elections racism-free.

"Sinn Féin has always played a leading role in our communities and in elected chambers across the country opposing racism. Last July we launched a Charter on Racism, which we brought to Local Councils across Ireland. Alex Maskey, as Mayor of Belfast, made tackling racism and sectarianism one of the main priorities of his term in office. Our elected representatives speak out against racism and work to ensure that the human rights of all are upheld. And as part of our preparations for the forthcoming elections, all of our candidates are currently taking part in anti-racism training. We are calling on other parties to follow our example on this issue, so that together we can make the anti-racist protocol a reality.

"Racism must be addressed at two levels: through local communities and at policy level. Local communities must be directly involved in the campaign to tackle racism and discrimination. Elected representatives must work to make sure that all policies and procedures are human rights-proofed. That is the message that we will be bringing to the people during this election campaign." ENDS

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