STATEMENT ON NATIONAL PLAN AGAINST RACISM
On March 21 the government launched its National Plan Against Racism as required by the EU Action Plan Against Racism (2020-2025). At its launch the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar claimed that the government was, “committed to rooting out systemic racism” while the Minister of state for integration, Joe O’Brien commented that, “we want people to reflect on the things they do and they say which aren’t ostensibly racist but actually contribute, often in an unconscious way, to spaces where racism can exist.”
Without immediately commenting on the contents of the Plan (which has generally been welcomed by Anti-racist organisations) we feel it necessary to point out that it is the government itself, and the EU, that needs to reflect most on their words and actions. Leo Varadkar, for example, might usefully reflect on his dog whistling in the Dáil this January when he proclaimed that Ireland could not guarantee accommodation for “everyone who comes to the country unannounced” and that the government, “will be prioritising people coming from Ukraine.” Why are people from the Ukraine more worthy, one might well ask?
Varadkar’s government could also usefully reflect on why it never challenged the remarks of the EU foreign policy Chief, Josep Borrel, describing Europe as a “garden” and the rest of the world as a “jungle.” Perhaps because they agree with them? And both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, might usefully reflect on the decades of anti-Traveller sentiment that has been freely expressed by their members, even at the highest levels. And one could go on and on.
The fact is that while presenting themselves to be the most anti-racist, the EU and governments of EU countries consistently uphold policies that “contribute to spaces where racism can exist.” While any number of refugees from Ukraine are welcomed, we have the creation of “Fortress Europe” against refugees from the rest of the world. On the EU borders we have;
– Construction of fences and walls
– Violent “pushbacks” of asylum seekers, causing thousands of deaths
– Brutality and abuse of human rights by the EU’s own Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex)
And the Asylum Seekers who do make it are, of course, treated very differently to refugees from Ukraine. Is it not discriminatory and racist to have a two class refugee policy? What sort of message does that send out?
In Ireland today there are many who would have us believe that racism is something found in working class communities, something that the better off, better educated are trying to eradicate. In fact, it is just the opposite. Racism has historically been a tool of the wealthy to not only justify enslavement and exploitation but to divide the working class, pitting worker against worker.
We again call on working people to not be fooled by propaganda that the cost of living, housing and health crises are somehow the fault of refugees and to place the blame where it correctly belongs – at the hands of government’s who represent the interests of the ruling minority at the expense of the working majority