"Racism and intolerance must be combated" - O'Donnell
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Liz O'Donnell TD, said today that growing racism and intolerance in Irish society must be combated.
Launching a new public education and awareness project on refugees in Dublin today, Minister O'Donnell said that while many Irish people supported and welcomed newcomers into society, there was strong evidence of "latent, and some more overt racism".
She said it wasn't enough for the Government to deplore this worrying development - it had to work actively to counter it.
"The acceptance and celebration of diversity must be championed in a true republic. Education and understanding, ethnicity and multi-culturalism are the key ingredients in helping to combat racism and intolerance," Minister O'Donnell said.
She said the new education project, directed by the Irish Refugee Agency, helped along the road to greater understanding.
"We must, as a society, respond to refugees with a generosity which for so long we have sought and received from others," she added.
The project, directed by the Irish Refugee Agency, will: widely distribute the booklet "A Part of Ireland Now";promote and facilitate discussions and events around refugee issues using the booklet, "A Part of Ireland Now" as a focus; train and support a core group of refugees to participate in these events; work in close liaison with development education groups, schools, youth and community groups, and develop specific activities within primary and secondary schools.
The project will also work with employers and trade unions to highlight ‘refugees as a resource' and will work with public service bodies involved in the direct provision of services to refugees.
The Irish Refugee Agency is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and has received project funding in the region of £35,000 per annum from the EU to assist with this project. The project has its own office in Gardiner Street and a full time Project Worker, Ms Juliet Cunliffe. The project will initially concentrate in the greater Dublin area.