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Sinead Ryan: Jihad Jane is showing how our country is changing

Finding ourselves smack in the middle of stories about the likes of US suspect Jihad Jane, and her possible links to Ireland, which normally only make the headlines in Britain or America, is scary and uncomfortable.

But isn't it about time we used the very small window of opportunity we now have to start a public discussion on what kind of country we want to be from here on in?

We have choices, albeit limited ones, about who gets to live here, what kind of society we wish for and surely the time is well and truly past for our usual reaction of shrugging our shoulders and assuming nobody will ever want to harm or change us anyway?

Terrorism is now a global business and we are no different to any other country in having to deal with its consequences. Some, such as France and Switzerland have reacted, with the former banning burkhas and religious symbols from schools, and the latter voting to ban the construction of minarets -- Islamic worship houses -- because they are a symbol of Sharia ideology. Others, like Britain went the whole hog on enforced multi-culturalism and ended up with ghetto-ised cities and towns that even they admit are a failure and have caused more, rather than less, segregation and mistrust.

Here, we refuse even to talk about such matters and commentators who do are immediately branded 'racist', thus preventing any open-minded discussion. But perhaps it's time we realised we don't have the luxury of just letting things be and hoping for the best.

In France, they've banned head dresses, but in the past Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe passed the buck to Conor Lenihan and since then ... nada.

We don't take the issue seriously at all.

And it's not about garments little girls wear, it's about the wider context of what we want our society to look like. Is it okay? Is it not?

The point is we never, ever talk about it.

Well, far more serious issues are being foisted on us now whether we like it or not.

Who will be the first to admit it?