Irish urged to take stand against rise in racism
Published 10/12/2013 | 02:30
IRISH people have been urged to follow the path of Nelson Mandela and stand against a rise in racist incidents.
The South African Ambassador to Ireland Azwindini Jeremiah Ndou has called on the Irish people to embrace Mr Mandela's legacy of equality.
"I think that there are a lot of people in Ireland who don't believe that racism should exist," he said.
"I think that these are forces that need to be mobilised against those that want to entrench racist tendencies in Ireland."
He was speaking in response to figures released by the Immigrant Council of Ireland last week, which revealed that reports of racism and hate crimes increased by 85pc in 2013.
The ambassador said that Mandela's vital work must be continued.
"Both as South Africans and together with the rest of the world, we have to look at what it is we can do to work towards creating this better world that Mandela has always been passionate about," he told the Irish Independent.
Pastor Gerard Chimbganda, who led an ANC event to mark the former president's passing, said that while Irish people were generally welcoming, there was always more work to be done.
"I think the key issue is that even those who wronged him, he simply forgave them," he said.
"I suppose it goes both ways -- the Irish people should treat the immigrants with equality and know that some of us are now naturalised Irish and we came here to help build Ireland.
The reports of racism recorded in Ireland during 2013, which included incidents of harassment, discrimination and physical violence, peaked over the summer months with 31 in July alone.
Since January, 142 incidents have been reported, compared to 77 over the same period last year.
In most cases, racist incidents were found to have occurred in a person's local community or workplace.
"These figures are very poignant considering Nelson Mandela's passing this week and how he challenged all levels of racism and racism in the very extreme," said Denise Charlton, chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland.
"The problem in Ireland is that we haven't known the level of racism out there until now and that's why it was so important to have a reporting system," she said.
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