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Minister for Intergration not fit for portfolio - McDonald

23 August, 2007

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has this morning described the refusal of the Chairperson of the government’s National Action Plan against Racism to give direction to both the Department of Justice and the Gardaí on the dispute involving a member of the Sikh community as disappointing.

Ms. McDonald said:

“Chairperson Lucy Gaffney’s statement yesterday is at best unhelpful and at worst supportive of Minister for Integration Conor Lenihan’s social ignorance. The role of the government’s Action Plan against Racism must extend beyond the production of literature. Central to its remit must be the active promotion of an equitable society.

“If we are to cultivate a cohesive society based on acceptance and understanding of the many religious faiths and cultures that coexist on the island then government must lead by example. Minister Lenihan’s remarks to the Sikh community that it’s our way or the highway examples a level of ignorance more akin to the Ireland of the 1950s than the 21st century.

"The fallout of the government and Gardaí decision to not support community cohesion, diversity, and tolerance of other cultures and faiths within its own ranks will only serve to deepen cultural divides. Sinn Féin believes Minister Lenihan has evidenced during this continuing controversy that he not up to the portfolio he has been given and should immediately resign from his position.” CRíOCH

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