Community groups and civil society organisations have joined forces to call for respectful and informed campaigning from all candidates in the run-up to the General Election 2020. The following letter was issued to newspapers :
Dear Sir/ Madam,
Everyone benefits when the language of equality, inclusion and opportunity dominates the political discourse instead of scapegoating, division and hatred. Candidates may attempt to win votes by hurting people and dividing communities; it’s up to all of us, including the media and political parties, to ensure this is not a successful strategy.
In a general election, voters are looking for vision, progress and solutions which involve them. We are all part of a more connected world. The Irish State has enjoyed the economic benefits this has brought from a business perspective but is often slow when it comes to sharing the economic benefits to everyone in our diverse and multicultural society.
In recent months several high profile political figures have employed ill-informed, divisive and hugely damaging language regarding minority communities in Ireland, including Travellers, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. In response, last month the UN human rights committee against racism noted the ‘frequent incidents of racist hate speech made by politicians, especially during election campaigns’ and called for effective investigations and real consequences for acts of hate speech by politicians during election campaigns.
Scapegoating ethnic and religious minority groups only builds divisions and stokes tension in Irish society. Too often, it dominates political discussion, distorting reality, stoking discord and stealing oxygen from more relevant issues. It entrenches discrimination, reinforces barriers within Irish communities instead of creating opportunities for inclusion and understanding.
We are uniting to call for all political parties, groupings and independent candidates to double down against hate speech in the run-up to the 2020 General Election. All the major parties and many independent candidates have endorsed the Irish Anti-Racism Network’s Anti-Racism Election Protocol and should accordingly be held to account for any violation.
We call on candidates to fully represent their constituencies, in all their glorious and rich diversity. We want to see candidates set the tone by:
- Focusing on uniting our communities, not dividing them.
- Recognising the significant economic and cultural benefits minorities provide.
- Offering real solutions to the causes of inequality in our society.
- Promoting equality of access to education, healthcare, housing, and work for everyone – without exception.
Amnesty International Ireland
Business in the Community Ireland
Community Work Ireland
Cork Migrant Centre
Cork Three Faiths Forum
Cork Traveller Women's Network
Dublin City Interfaith Forum
Immigrant Council of Ireland
ICCL – Irish Council for Civil Liberties
Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland
INAR – Irish Network Against Racism
Irish Refugee Council
Laois Integration Network
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland
MASI – Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland
Muslim Sisters of Eire
Nasc – the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre
National Traveller Women’s Forum
National Women’s Council of Ireland
Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre
Places of Sanctuary Ireland
Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles
UCC University of Sanctuary Working Group
Universities of Sanctuary Ireland
Waterford Immigration Network
Dean Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford