Wednesday 23 October 2019

Anger over racist stickers near site where citizenship is granted

Disgusted: Mayor of Kerry Niall Kelleher condemned the stickers and removed some himself. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
Disgusted: Mayor of Kerry Niall Kelleher condemned the stickers and removed some himself. Photo: Valerie O’Sullivan
Disgusted: Mayor of Kerry Niall Kelleher condemned the stickers and removed some himself

Anne Lucey and Nicola Anderson

Gardaí are investigating after a number of racist stickers appeared near the Killarney Convention Centre, where thousands of new Irish are conferred with citizenship each year.

Up to 30 stickers with the tag-line "You'll never be the Irish" were placed at several spots along the Muckross Road overnight on Tuesday.

They depict people of a number of different ethnic backgrounds, as well as in Islamic and African dress, overlooked by a sign saying "Convention Centre".

Some 2,900 people from more than 90 countries became Irish citizens at the convention centre at citizenship ceremonies last April.

The official complaint about the stickers was initially made by a local hotelier.

Gearóid Murphy, deputy hotel manager of the Riverside Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry, described how his staff arriving to work were upset and horrified by the message and tone of the stickers, with staff from overseas particularly hurt by the racist slur.

Around 15 to 20 of the professionally printed stickers had been stuck up on lampposts close to the Convention Centre. Mr Murphy said somebody would have had to have agreed to print them up.

"They went to someone and said, 'I want to get these stickers printed, can you do it for me?' and they had a look at it and said, 'Yeah I have no issue with that, I'll take your money and print those up'."

Mr Murphy told Radio Kerry that he felt it was important to make "a big issue about it" just in case someone else thought "that was a bit of fun".

"The longer the day went on yesterday, the angrier I was getting about it," he said, adding that you could think about it "from every angle".

"The level of ignorance to do something like this, especially in a town like Killarney, a town that could not function without foreign people coming in and spending money, it's very frustrating," he said, adding that it was "depressing".

"Once you see them you can't unsee them," he said of the stickers, adding that he had ripped down one or two outside the hotel and had then alerted other local hotels who had not noticed them.

He said he hoped gardaí would find out who did it and that they would get the attention they had sought by having their face "on the front of a newspaper".

Mayor of Kelly, Councillor Niall Kelleher, condemned the racist stickers and said the council has since removed them and he also took some down himself.

"As mayor of Kerry and as a public representative in Killarney, I'm disgusted and enraged by the appalling incident that occurred in the town of Killarney in the early hours of Tuesday morning," said Mr Kelleher. "They have no place and are not welcome in our town or in our communities."

He has reported the matter to gardaí and urged anyone with information to come forward.

The Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce strongly condemned "the mindless and completely unacceptable actions of whoever was responsible for placing racist, vulgar and pitiful slogans in a public area, under the cover of darkness".

"Such dreadful behaviour has no place in the progressive and successful town of Killarney where there is a warm, genuine and universal welcome for everybody," it added.

The chamber said it appreciates the enormous contribution made by people from overseas "who come to live and work alongside us and become our neighbours, friends and colleagues and our children's friends, classmates and teammates".

It described racism as "an ugly weapon that must have no place in society" and said there must be no tolerance of "discrimination, prejudice, insult or antagonism".

Irish Independent

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