Social media is fuelling growth of racism - but we've no excuse here: McAleese
Social media has "oxygenated" the growth of anti-immigrant and racist movements across Europe, former President Mary McAleese warned.
She said Irish people have no right to behave in a racist fashion, having been the victims of racism such as 'no Irish need apply'.
Dr McAleese warned those "horrified" by the rise in racist anti-immigrant movements that "complacency" would "not serve us well".
Noting that 17pc of the population in Ireland "comes from somewhere else", the former head of State said: "I think in general we have done a wonderful job in absorbing [them]."
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
However, she said: "That is not to say that we have done a perfect job. That is not to say that we don't have racism in our midst."
She said it "breaks your heart and makes you say, 'hang on a minute, we were the people who were victims of racism'".
"Whether it was in England where it was 'no Irish need apply' or America, we have no right to behave like that."
Dr McAleese also expressed concern over the growth of anti-immigrant and racist movements across Europe.
Describing their stance as not new, she warned that social media had "oxygenated" and "helped them hugely".
"They find friends very easily now; they can reconfigure and find strength in numbers."
She was speaking as part of a panel discussion in the Jonathan Swift Festival.