Racism in Ireland - What it is and how it can be fought

31st March 2001

Gregor Kerr

1. racism is not a new phenomenon in Ireland - state's attitude to Travellers

2. state's attitude to asylum seekers - place this in the context of 'Fortress Europe' which itself must be looked at in the context of 'globalisation' of capital

3. Institutional/state racism exists in this context - therefore this policy will continue whoever is in government, so no point in expecting a centre-left government, for example, to behave any differently

4. Within the context of this institutional/state racism are individual politicians who enjoy stirring up the shit. People like Callely and the Healy Raes who feel that it is popular to 'be the hard man' on this issue.

5. On the ground, in working class communities, 99%+ of the 'racism' is actually xenophobia - people are scared of the unknown, afraid for the future of their communities and their families, jobs etc.

6. The battle to be won is a battle of ideas - working class people need to be convinced that they have more in common with asylum seekers than they do with Tony O'Reilly, Michael O'Leary (the guy that owns Ryanair), Charlie Haughey or Ray Burke etc. etc.

7. Thus anti-racists must fight alongside people from working class communities in their fight for housing, decent jobs etc. etc. - take the rug from under the 'we need to look after our own first' brigade.

8. In the context of this battle of ideas, the right to free speech is sacrosanct - a 'no platform' policy - necessary in the context of fascists - is so extreme that its use must be strictly controlled. Just because someone is an extreme racist (eg Aine Ni Chonaill) does not imply that they are a fascist.