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Jim Allister should desist from playing the race card on immigration - Mary Lou McDonald

18 August, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP has today accused DUP MEP Jim Allister of shamelessly playing the race card with regards to both Bulgaria and Romania joining the European Union next year.

Ms McDonald made her comments after Jim Allister released a press statement calling on the British Government to restrict access of workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"Quite frankly I am not surprised by the DUPs attitude towards the free movement of workers throughout the European Union. Mr Allister‚s use of language is not only unfortunate but his use of terms like a Œfresh flood of immigration‚ is unacceptable.

"Sinn Féin has previously called upon EU member states to remove restrictions placed on migrant workers and allow for the free movement of workers right across the EU. Ireland remains only one of a small number of EU countries to open up their labour markets to new member states. We must embrace those who come to Ireland in the same way and at the same time work to combat exploitation and discrimination against migrant workers.

"The twin problems of exploitation of migrant workers and the displacement of Irish workers are ones which government, policy makers and the trade unions must effectively deal with. It is unacceptable that all across Europe worker is pitted against fellow worker based upon how little they are prepared to work for or the health and safety standards they are prepared to accept.

"Jim Allister‚s insular and mean spirited views on the issue of immigration are consistent with his party's inability to share power with nationalists and republicans in the six counties. The Irish experience of immigration has been overwhelmingly positive with migrant workers contributing to society and enriching the cultural fabric of the nation. Mr Allister should recognize this and support the free movement of workers across the EU whether they are Irish, British or Romanian." ENDS

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