PQ: Anti-Racism Measures

Tue, December 1, 2015

310. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions she is taking to ensure that extreme right-wing views on immigrants from Syria and other countries being branded as terrorists are tackled; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy is aware, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere have given rise to considerable and understandable concerns both in Ireland and across Europe. It is fortunate that in Ireland there appears to be little tolerance for the open expression of extremist views directed against individuals and minority groups. It is recognised that certain media, and in particular, social media, do provide a platform for the expression of views which can sometimes be characterised as intemperate or immoderate at best and at times, verging on the openly racist. However, this is a phenomenon that is certainly not limited to the area of concern raised by the Deputy.

It is widely recognised that it is very difficult to combat or address such viewpoints without engaging civil society in a broader discourse centred around the values of pluralism, civility and tolerance; qualities which in my view find abundant expression in our civil and political discourse. Unfortunately, there are those in every society who use tragedies such as the Paris attacks to denigrate those who are perceived as “different” or in some way perceived as “separate”. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people in our society actively oppose the expression of such extremist viewpoints. In addition, it is a feature of Irish political life that no political party espouses extreme right-wing views on immigrants which I take to indicate that there is little support amongst the public for such extreme opinions.

As part of the recent Government decision establishing the Irish Refugee Protection Programme, the Government asked for a Communications Strategy and Implementation Plan to be developed, bearing in mind the issues which might arise during the course of the Programme’s implementation. This matter will be considered at the next meeting of the Taskforce which the Government established to oversee the Programme. Without seeking to pre-empt what the Communications Strategy and associated Plan might propose, I anticipate that it will address the area of concern raised by the Deputy by ensuring the provision and widespread communication of accurate information thereby decreasing the opportunity for misinformation being used to peddle alarmist and extremist viewpoints.

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