'Young Muslims must be made to feel part of our society'
Integration Minister says we must avoid ghettoisation, writes Shane Phelan
The Immigration and Integration Minister believes the radicalisation of young Muslims in Ireland can be avoided by ensuring they feel involved in society.
Junior Justice Minister David Stanton said the Government was committed to avoiding any ghettoisation of groups or individuals. Noting that disenfranchisement had been a factor in young men drifting towards groups such as Isil elsewhere in Europe, Mr Stanton said it was essential that proper integration occurs.
"It is most important to ensure we work with the Islamic community and other communities here to make sure they feel part of Irish society, they have a stake here and they work with us to ensure we don't have the type of events here that are happening elsewhere," he said.
"If people feel involved and have a stake in society, they will come forward if they feel anybody out there might be a threat."
Mr Stanton said he was "heartened" by the response of the Muslim community in Ireland any time an atrocity has been committed abroad.
"It has condemned out of hand the kind of incidents which happened on the continent," he said.
The minister said while gardaí had a role to play by gathering intelligence, the Government's approach was much broader based.
Under an integration strategy it will review laws on racially motivated crime and strengthen laws against hate speech. Measures are planned to address the under-reporting of racially motivated crimes.
Local authorities are to publish policies on racist graffiti in their areas and ensure it is taken down quickly.
Mr Stanton said Ireland was "very lucky" it didn't have any political parties using the migrant issue to promote themselves.
"The questions put to me in the Dáil are 'can we do more to support asylum seekers and migrants', rather than the other way that you see in other countries out there," he said.
Mr Stanton said he didn't believe this situation would change with the arrival of Syrian refugees over the coming years.
"The number of refugees we are taking in is very small. It is 4,000 overall. Other countries have taken in multiples of that," he said.
"The response I am seeing from communities is that people are asking what they can do to help," he said.
He said there had been a lot of application for funds from the department's €500,000 communities integration fund.
"The idea is that communities would come up with ideas for integration events and we have had a couple of hundred applications," he said.