A survey by the One Foundation, reported in the Irish Times yesterday, has found that TDs fear that showing support for migrants may damage their electoral chances. Almost two thirds of those TDs surveyed said that they had encountered racist attitudes while canvassing.
This survey follows the recent resignation of Darren Scully, Major of Naas and Fine Gael Councillor, who stated in two separate radio interviews that in the future, he would refuse to represent African constituents.
Such attitudes are deeply depressing and contrast sharply with the positive attitude towards integration and life in Ireland expressed to us by many of our clients. It also contrasts sharply with the positive innovation of citizenship ceremonies for new Irish citizens that were recently introduced (see our post).
We followed with interest the ceremony held in Cork last week where retired High Court judge Mr Justice Bryan McMahon welcomed 635 “new Irish”.
Mr Justice Bryan McMahon welcomed the “new Irish” saying: “The State, in granting you citizenship, does not ask you to surrender your own identity . . . when you make your life here, do not forget the country or the culture you come from, bring your stories, your music, your games – enrich our lives.”
The introduction of the citizenship ceremonies is certainly a positive, if limited step, towards addressing integration of migrants into Irish society. But much more is needed. We recall that the programme of the current government promised to: “promote policies which integrate minority ethnic groups in Ireland, and which promote social inclusion, equality, diversity and the participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities.”
The Integration Centre recently launched a Roadmap to Integration that puts forward a number of affordable and practical proposals. You may recall our previous post on this important document. We again welcome implementation of such a roadmap and hope that an inclusive regime will help overcome the negative attitudes highlighted in this survey of TDs.