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Unacceptable incidents may occur but Ireland doesn’t deserve the label of a ‘racist country’

Letters to the Editor


Protest: Sophie McCarthy outside the US Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Protest: Sophie McCarthy outside the US Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Protest: Sophie McCarthy outside the US Embassy in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ireland is objectively not a racist country, nor are the vast majority of its people.

This needs to be emphasized in the face of the current barrage of anecdotal media reports about unpleasant remarks made to some black people here.

Ireland has extensive equality legislation governing racial discrimination. We have no history of slavery nor institutional racism; in fact we were historic victims ourselves, and not long ago either - look at the segregation and discrimination in Northern Ireland until recently. There is no racist police brutality here whatsoever. In recent years, we've spent hundreds of millions on asylum seekers, offering those who qualify an unprecedented fresh start in our home. We are an outlier in Europe in not having any significant far-right anti-immigrant political party.

Media reports of what constitutes racism here appear to consist of school bullying (teenagers and other kids being of course otherwise well known for their tolerance and compassion!), shouted abuse at GAA matches (another crew well known for their politeness and reserve in the stands!), and drunks yelling in the streets.

Such incidents, unacceptable as they are, do not make this country one of the most racist in the world, as reported on the front page of your newspaper of June 9 ('Ireland really is the most racist country I've lived in'). Such reporting is unfair.

I wish our politicians would speak up for the country and defend things like our record on international human rights, and our individual charitable generosity towards Africa. The one-sided story needs to stop.

Thomas Ryan

Thurles, Co Tipperary

Dahl can help parents to navigate racism minefield

Black Lives Matter events may have children asking questions over disturbing events that are unfolding.

It can feel like a minefield for parents who often struggle to know what to say that's age-appropriate. Telling very young kids too much about racism can be difficult as children do not understand what they see and hear.

I recommend Roald Dahl's 'The Sneetches', written in 1961, about social acceptance. It's a very clever, witty story that shows children how to appreciate their differences. In terms of race, gender or social class, this book teaches some simple lessons.

It tells the story of two types of Sneetches - those with stars on their bellies and those with no stars. The Sneetches with no stars are socially excluded by the star-bellied Sneetches who think themselves better than the others. What follows is a crazy time about what is and what is not important about the people around us. Excellent for discussing issues of prejudice and discrimination with children.

Declan Duffy

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Beady eye, gobbled crust and a taste of normality

Rumour had it he was seen fishing off Inis Mór for the last 12 weeks. But here he is parading down Shop Street.

Chest stuck out, his gait of walking had not lost its aggression. His feet appear bigger than I remembered, but then again it had been a while. As he approached me, he tried to stare me down with those beady eyes. The smirk on his mouth exuding what American folk call an 'additude problem'.

A piece of crust fell off the croissant I was enjoying with my coffee to go. He pounced on it in a heartbeat, gobbled it up and hopped across to the other side of the street. I'd forgotten how big a seagull is but somehow this was a small reassuring move back to normality!

Michael Rooney

Knocknacarra, Co Galway

Sins of great grandfather not Lansdowne's fault

Paul Doran (Letters, June 11) has reached a new level of hysteria in his call to remove the name Lansdowne from Dublin.

Lord Lansdowne was one of only two Irishmen to become British prime minister. In that position, he recognised the independence of the United States, ending their bloody Revolutionary War.

Mr Doran believes Lansdowne's name should be removed because his great grandfather, William Petty, was a bad man.

Has our society become so intolerant that a person can no longer be judged on their own merit and achievement? That we must be punished, not only for the sins of the father, but of the grandfather and the great grandfather?

How many of us can say with certainty that every action taken by all our ancestors would pass the moral threshold of today's standards?

I think it's madness and I believe my great-grandfather would agree with me.

Peter Cosgrove

Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford

Culling of movie classics? Frankly, I give a damn...

It would appear that 'Gone With The Wind' has gone with the woke.

Brian Ahern

Clonsilla, Dublin 15

Infighting can only go so far in the Green Party

Isn't Eamon Ryan a lucky man? His critics in the Green Party can't burn him at the stake for his latest gaffe because open fires are against party policy. The only environmentally friendly punishment open to them is to banish the Eamon to Seanad Éireann.

Karl Martin

Dublin 13

The world can't return to the way it was before

Two events have shaken our world out of its complacency. Instead of the Covid-19 pandemic being an equaliser, it is now established that black, Asian and ethnic minority groups in the UK are twice to three times more likely to die from its effects. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has had a worldwide effect in raising awareness of the blatant and insidious racism that permeates white-dominated societies.

As with the Covid-19 crisis, we cannot return to our previous normal of accepting health injustices, so too after the killing of Mr Floyd, world society cannot be allowed to return to any level of institutionalised racism.

Brendan Butler

Malahide, Co Dublin

Sinn Féin can't expect to govern until it evolves

Sinn Féin seems to believe it has an automatic right to be in government.

This is nonsense. Any government will require three parties to have an effective majority. And the country requires stability without another general election for an absolute minimum of three years.

Consequently, parties need an arrangement where they can work together without the type of break-up that occurred in Northern Ireland.

This rules out Sinn Féin from a coalition with other established parties in the Republic. I see no reason why a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens should not be effective. They must agree a joint programme requiring all three parties to accept major compromises. However, this situation was always likely to surface based on division of seats. I cannot see a situation where Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael could form a proper working relationship with Sinn Féin. This fact cannot be ignored because Sinn Féin had a better election than expected.

Brian Patrick McArdle

Newbridge, Co Kildare

Time for lay parishioners to share financial burden

Michael Kelly's article (Comment, June 12) hits the nail on the head in respect of the future vitality of the Irish Catholic Church. Taken together with Sarah MacDonald's account of Dublin Archdiocese's financial woes, the clear message is that lay-led parish and diocesan finance committees need to take a more proactive role.

In my time as a parishioner in London I heard biannual lay pulpit appeals for planned giving. Every two or three years I was visited by a member of the parish finance committee to ensure that my charity tax rebate forms were correctly updated. I was also gently encouraged to up my contributions in line with salary increases and to pay effortlessly by standing order.

In Ireland it seems that we have left financial burdens on the backs of our priests. Now is the time for us to step forward and accept our responsibility for "the support of our pastors".

Alan Whelan

Killarney, Co Kerry

Irish Independent