Minister Dermot Ahern Advances Political Protocol on Sectarianism
(Extract from speech of Dermot Ahern T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, 6th March 2006, Dundalk)
"Before the last general election, most political parties across the island signed up to the NCCRI Anti-racism Political Protocol or the Charter of European Parties for a Non-racist Society.
By doing so we sent out a clear message that race has no place in Irish politics.
That no-one should electioneer on the issue of colour or on the fear of other cultures.
That no-one should resort to a political narrative of black versus white.
Or garner political support on the back of racial division or fear.
Perhaps now it is time to consider a similar move in relation to sectarianism.
Perhaps it is time that all parties in the North and indeed in the South signed up to a Political Protocol on Sectarianism;
A declaration, that politicians or political parties will not resort to the gratuitous, populist narrative of Catholic versus Protestant or unionist versus nationalist, for political gain.
A powerful message from political leaders, throughout the island, that sectarianism is just not on.
I'm not talking about ignoring the very real injustice, isolation, alienation and terror of the past.
I'm talking about a clear political statement that those who rioted in Dublin, those who have attacked families in North for no other reason than their religion or their political beliefs are wholly without legitimacy and open to nothing but condemnation.
All I ask today, is that the parties consider it."
6 March 2006