Sinn Féin - On Your Side

We All Must Do More to Combat Racism - de Brún

21 March, 2004

Speaking on the eve of European Week Against Racism, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on European Affairs Bairbre de Brún MLA has called on politicians, government and civic society to do more to combat racism.

Ms de Brún said:

"Following the recent upsurge of violent attacks against members of ethnic minority communities in our towns and cities, the general public is becoming aware of a reality which has existed for some time, namely racism. People across the political spectrum have rightly demanded that such attacks should stop.

"Racist attacks are a reality in my own constituency and I would call on those involved to desist immediately. I would also appeal to the wider community to defend the rights, the safety and the dignity of those members of our community who are vulnerable to such appalling attacks. I am particularly horrified at a vicious attack on a man on the Falls Road on Thursday night, which resulted in him having a bitemark to his ear, a black eye, bruising to his forehead and a swollen knee.

"Racism also extends far beyond such violent attacks. Members of ethnic minority communities experience a whole series of inequalities in our society, ranging from verbal and physical abuse to discrimination in employment, education, health provision, and public life more generally.

"This coming week has been designated as European Week Against Racism. Events across Ireland and Europe will be taking place aimed at highlighting the multi faceted reality of racism and the need for us all to play a part in making racism a thing of the past.

"The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racism defines racism as: 'any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour,descent or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.'

"Eliminating such abuses of human and civil rights is the responsibility of us all. Throughout the coming week we all need to examine the roles we can play in helping to combat racism and redouble our efforts in this regard. In particular politicians and others in positions of community leadership need to ask ourselves what more can we do to assist ethnic minority communities and ensure that all people can live free from the negative effects of racism.

"Condemning racist attacks is not enough. We need to actively work for the removal of racism from our society. This requires action as much as words. It requires adequate resourcing and support for ethnic minority communities and their support groups. And it requires meaningful partnerships between all sections of society."ENDS

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